A disgruntled security guard at the British embassy in Berlin has pleaded guilty to breaching the Official Secrets Act after spending at least 10 months spying for Russia. David Ballantyne Smith, 58, was arrested by German police near his home in Potsdam on August 10, 2021, after being caught in a sting operation. He passed secrets to the Russian military attache, including details about the activities, identities, addresses and telephone numbers of various members of the embassy. This vital information was said to be intended to be useful to an enemy.
Police found €800 in cash in his flat that could not be accounted for, as well as emails and documents marked “secret”, which had apparently been prepared to pass over to Russia.
In conversations, Smith is said to have said he hated the UK and Germany, while also expressing his displeasure at the flying of the rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
The security guard was caught after being contacted by someone he believed was working for Russian military intelligence, the GRU.
During a hearing at the Old Bailey in London last Friday, Smith pleaded guilty to eight out of nine charges under the Official Secrets Act 1911 and 1920.
Reporting restrictions have now been lifted after the prosecution opted against pressing ahead with the remaining charge filed against Smith.
He had been employed as a security guard at the at the embassy in Berlin for around eight years.
The charges state Smith communicated with General Major Sergey Chukhurov, the Russian military attache at the Russian Embassy in Berlin, between October 31 and December 1, 2020.
A document was posted containing several pieces of information and pictures of security passes from the British Embassy in Berlin.
This had been sent close to where Smith lived, and it was later concluded there was strong evidence he was the person that had written the address and the envelope following expert handwriting analysis that had been conducted.
Between October 31, 2020 and August 10, 2021, Smith collected material classified as “secret”, relating to the operation and layout of the British Embassy in the German city and its activities.
On August 5, 2021, the security guard was seen on CCTV in the security kiosk at the embassy in Berlin, looking at the CCTV system and filming images of a person referred to as “Dmitry”.
Then at 8.45pm, he was caught by the covert equipment telling himself: “This’ll do. I’ll get the rest tomorrow.”
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