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Poland detains Russian hockey player suspected of espionage: officials

30.06.2023 11:30
Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) has detained a Russian hockey player suspected of spying for Moscow and being part of a plot to sabotage Western arms supplies to Ukraine, authorities said on Friday.
The Warsaw headquarters of Polands Internal Security Agency (ABW).
The Warsaw headquarters of Poland's Internal Security Agency (ABW).Lukasz2, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The suspect was arrested in southern Poland on June 11, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The Polish government said in a statement that the man was a professional ice hockey player in Poland’s top flight who “has been residing in the country since October 2021.”

The statement added that the suspect "carried out tasks for the benefit of foreign intelligence," including "reconnaissance of critical infrastructure" in several Polish provinces.

Stanisław Żaryn, the spokesman for Poland’s security services, said the suspect had been passing information to his handlers “about the results of his reconnaissance operations, for which he was regularly paid.”

The collected evidence confirms the suspect’s “involvement and active participation in fulfilling the tasks that he was assigned with,” according to Polish authorities.

Suspect faces up to 10 years in prison: officials

Prosecutors have charged the Russian with “participation in an organised crime group” and “working for foreign intelligence against the interests of Poland.”

The charges carry a prison term of up to 10 years, the PAP news agency reported.

On June 13, the regional court in the eastern city of Lublin ordered that the suspect be remanded in custody for three months, officials said. 

The Russian man is the 14th person arrested on suspicion of being part of a spy ring used by the Russian intelligence service “to conduct intelligence activities, including railways' monitoring, as well as to spread propaganda targeted against NATO, Poland and the Polish government,” authorities said.

They added that the suspect "also prepared acts of sabotage ordered by Russian intelligence."

"The whole ring was paid for the tasks carried out,” according to the statement.

The ABW agency is “continuing an intensive probe into the matter” and prosecutors “are not ruling out making further arrests in the investigation,” the PAP news agency reported.

'Russian spies are being caught one after another': justice minister

Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said in a tweet on Friday morning: “Russian spies are being caught one after another. Another success for investigators at the National Public Prosecutor's Office and the Internal Security Agency (ABW).”

He added: “Polish authorities have caught a spy who had been operating under the cover of being an athlete. The Russian man in question played for a first division [ice hockey] club. He’s the 14th person to be arrested for being a member of the spy ring Poland has busted. I thank prosecutors and ABW officials for their commitment to the defence of the homeland.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Friday is day 492 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, gov.pl