An Austrian colonel has been charged with spying for the GRU military intelligence of Russia for decades. The name of the person has not been revealed. He is currently under trial in Salzburg. The man has been held behind closed doors due to national security. He was already sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 but was released after serving half the time.
The Austrian colonel was found guilty on June 9 under charges like “betraying state secrets”, helping “foreign intelligence organization to the detriment of Austria”, and also due to “premeditate divulgation of a military secret”. The maximum time he had to spend in prison was 10 years.
The main had refused to hand over secret data but confessed to explain open-source material “like a foreign correspondent.” The lawyer of the colonel informed this during the beginning of his trial in March. He also said that the man only passed on publicly available information to the country.
Charges against Austrian colonel
The prosecutors accused the ex-Austrian colonel of coming in contact with Russia in 1987. As per the indictment, the man has been providing military secrets from 1992 to 2018 and charged $317,000 to do so.
According to Austrian investigators, Igor Zaitsev, a significant military intelligence officer, had recruited the spy. When asked about the spy, Moscow denied the involvement of such espionage. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said that they have nothing to do about it. The court recognized all the facts stated and concluded that the defendant is no longer a threat. However, he will have to continue to term in prison.
Austria is one of the countries in Europe that maintains close and diplomatic terms with Moscow. Irrespective of Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the act of poisoning Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter in UK. For this, London had blamed Kremlin.
Vienna is alleged to be the home to several international organizations for espionage due to the proximity to Iron Curtain during Cold War. Such organizations include the International Atomic Energy Agency.