British embassy security guard in Berlin accused of passing secrets to Russian general

The man was extradited to the UK this week after being arrested by German police last summer

A court artist sketch of David Smith appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. PA

A security guard at the British embassy in Berlin accused of spying for Russia allegedly passed confidential information about the government to a Russian general, according to court papers.

David Smith, 57, is pleaded not guilty to with nine offences under the Official Secrets Act when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.

The British citizen, who was living in Potsdam, is accused of gathering information from the embassy and passing it to someone he believed was a representative of the Russian state, among other alleged offences between October 2020 and August last year.

Court lists detailing the charges allege Mr Smith “attempted to communicate” by letter with “General Major Sergey Chukhurov, the Russian military attache based out of the Russian Embassy, Berlin”.

The material “contained details about the activities, identities, addresses and telephone numbers of various members of Her Majesty’s Civil Service”, in breach of the Official Secrets Act.

In eight other charges, Mr Smith is accused of committing acts prejudicial to the safety and interest of the state by gathering information classified as “secret” about the “activities of Her Majesty’s Government” and that he “collected material relating to the operation and layout of the British Embassy in Berlin, and that information was calculated to be or might be or was intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy, namely the Russian state”.

A police van, thought to be carrying David Smith, leaves the Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, on Thursday. AP Photo

He is also alleged to have made unauthorised photo-copies of documents, video recordings of the embassy’s CCTV system and “kept sim card packaging which you had been asked to dispose of”.

The former security guard is also accused of passing information about building repairs at the embassy after being “approached by a person you believed to be a member of Russian Military Intelligence (the GRU)”.

He was arrested by German police on August 10 and remanded in custody before being extradited to the UK on Wednesday.

Germany announced this week it was expelling 40 staff at the Russian embassy in Berlin over suspected links to spy agencies as a first response to the killing of Ukrainian civilians in the city of Bucha, near Kyiv.

The French foreign ministry said on Monday it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats. Earlier, Lithuania removed its Russian ambassador.

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Updated: April 07, 2022, 2:14 PM
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