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A British embassy security guard in Berlin spied for the Russians. David Ballantyne Smith questioned in a London court

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A security guard at the British embassy in Berlin who collected confidential information and passed some of it to Russian authorities was questioned by a London court on Tuesday. The man said he “disgusts himself and is ashamed of what he has done,” reports Reuters.

David Ballantyne Smith, 58, who worked at the British Embassy for eight years, was detained in August 2021 in Potsdam as a result of a joint British-German operation. He was extradited to the UK in April last year. Smith was accused of gathering intelligence on the embassy and disclosing it to a hostile state.

In November, Smith pleaded guilty to eight offenses under the Official Secrets Act, including one count of passing information to a Russian military attache in Berlin in November 2020. According to the allegations, from October to December 2020, he communicated with a Russian, to whom he provided information about the addresses, telephone numbers and activities of various British government officials.

In talks with Russian principals, he allegedly declared that he hated Great Britain and German and to express anger at the display of a rainbow flag on the embassy building in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

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David Ballantyne Smith on surveillance camera footageReuters

Defendant: I wanted to punch the embassy in the nose

On Tuesday, Smith was questioned at the Old Bailey Court in London, where serious criminal cases are heard. He testified that he was suffering from depression when he began collecting confidential information. The man said he had argued with colleagues and wanted to “slap the embassy on the nose”.

“I can only apologize for any damage I have caused to anyone,” he said. – I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I just had a bit of regret and just wanted to make fun of the embassy.” The man said that he “disgusts himself and is ashamed of what he has done”.

David Ballantyne Smith on surveillance camera footageReuters

On Monday, prosecutor Allison Morgan said Smith had been collecting sensitive information for more than three years. Among them was “secret” government correspondence of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson with two ministers in his office and other sensitive documents.

The accused testified on Tuesday that he filmed the documents after consuming “seven liters of beer”. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he said. However, he noted that he did not provide the materials to anyone because “this would be a conscious act to the detriment of Great Britain”.

Prosecution: He had a clear intention to cause damage to Britain

Smith was arrested in August 2021, a day after meeting “Irina”, a British MI5 security officer who claims to be a member of Russian military intelligence. The agent allegedly told the man she needed help because someone had given the UK information that “may be harmful to Russia“.

Asked in court on Tuesday when he realized “Irina” might have been working for British intelligence, Smith replied: “The moment she opened her mouth, I knew she was British because she spoke to me with a fluent English accent.” He added that he still kept in touch with her because he was “playing with her”.

According to the prosecution, Smith told colleagues about his “strong anti-British views” as well as his support for the Russian president Vladimir Putin, indicating that he had “clear intent to cause harm to Britain”. Smith denied the prosecution’s claims about his sympathy for Putin and anti-British views. He emphasized that he served in the British Air Force for 12 years.

Prosecutor Allison Morgan, however, argued in court on Monday that the defendant was gathering confidential information, realizing that it would be “highly detrimental to the interests of the country and the people” she believed he was “ready to sell”.

The accused faces up to 14 years in prison.

Main photo source: Reuters

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