Working at the British Embassy in Berlin, David Smith has accepted spying for Russia. He has pleaded guilty to eight offenses under the Official Secrets Act relating to passing on valuable information to Russia.
David Ballantyne Smith lived in Potsdam, a city in Germany, and was employed as a security guard at the embassy in Berlin.
He was extradited to the UK from Germany following his arrest by German police in August 2021.
On 4 November, David, now of no fixed abode, begged guilty to the charges but initially put restrictions in place, according to the report.
Lifted them on Friday after the prosecution indicated it would not aim a trial on a ninth charge that David had denied.
Deported to the UK
In 2020 The charges against Smith noted he had communicated with General Major Sergey Chukhurov, the Russian military attache of the Russian Embassy in Berlin – giving information about various British civil servants’ addresses, phone numbers, and activities.
David collected intelligence on the operation and setup of the embassy, which he said would be beneficial to “an enemy, namely the Russian state.”
The British government and its German embassy were related, and Some material was classified as “secret.”
As a security guard, David did not have access to top-secret material in the embassy.
But the material he has confessed to passing on or collecting could still benefit the Russians.
British intelligence officers at the embassy would help identify if they were meeting any agents.
Russian spies working out could also be helped by Details of CCTV on how to run their operations against the embassy and collect its secrets.
Smith’s lawyers are said to be disputing the prosecution’s claims about his motivation, but historically, disgruntled employees have often been the most effective.
The case may also raise questions about the checks on staff, like Smith, that are recruited locally.
Smith had left work early on the day he was arrested, complaining of feeling ill, and was met at his home by German police.
Uk in November 2021 request was made for his extradition after the investigation by British counter-terrorism police. In April, Smith arrived back in the UK.
After examining his electronic devices, investigators discovered footage from the embassy and a draught letter to a Russian military attache dated 14 May 2020.
He worked at the embassy, he confirmed in the letter, and wanted obscurity as he offered a book classified as “official sensitive.”
There were also “secret” classified emails and documents, pictures of staff security passes and personal information, and posters and whiteboards in the embassy.
Smith’s lawyer told the court that the defendant disputed how the prosecution presented his motivation.
“It is right to say there is a significant distinction as to the basis Mr. Smith has pleaded guilty, said Matthew Ryder KC. And having him not having a negative connotation towards the UK that the prosecution has alleged against him.”
He also admitted to seven other counts of gathering information that could be “useful to an enemy, namely the Russian state,” including information “relating to the operation and layout of the British embassy in Berlin.”
On Friday, Judge Mark Wall lifted the restrictions on reporting Smith’s pleas after the prosecution indicated that it would not seek a trial on a ninth charge to which Smith pleaded not guilty.
Searches of his electronic devices turned up a draught of a May 2020 letter in which he offered his services to a Russian diplomat.
Prosecutors claimed Smith, who was said to have lived beyond his means in Germany, was motivated by a hatred of the United Kingdom and its embassy, where he had worked for eight years and had expressed sympathy for Russian authorities.
They claimed he was angry that the embassy flew the rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Smith’s lawyer Matthew Ryder told the court there is “a huge difference between the (prosecution) and Mr. Smith about his motivation.”
Ryder added vigorously disputes the (prosecution’s) assertions regarding Mr. Smith’s intent, the reasons for his actions, and the gravity of the allegations.
David faces 14 years of spying, a maximum jail term.
In February 2023 hearing is expected to take place and determine the basis on which Smith will be sentenced.