Absolutely Unacceptable': Berlin Furious Over Arrest of UK National Suspected of Spying for Russia

Earlier in the day, the German prosecutor's office announced that authorities had detained a British national accused of spying for a Russian intelligence service. The UK confirmed that the arrest had been made, while Russia is yet to comment on the allegations.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has reacted to reports of the arrest of a British national in Germany on suspicion of spying for Russia, saying that such espionage by a citizen of an allied nation was "absolutely unacceptable."

"We take information on intelligence activities in the interests of the Russian special services extremely seriously, because espionage against a close ally on German territory is absolutely unacceptable," Maas said, speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

The foreign minister indicated that he had not yet contacted his colleagues in the UK about the arrest of the espionage suspect, but said he was prepared to support the investigation.

Earlier on Wednesday, German prosecutors announced that a 57-year-old British national named David S had been detained in Potsdam, Germany by the federal criminal police on Tuesday on suspicion of espionage for an unnamed Russian intelligence agency. The suspect's home and workplace – the British Embassy in Berlin – were searched. He's accused of having collaborated with the foreign intelligence service since November 2020.

Scotland Yard later confirmed this information, stressing that the case was in the jurisdiction of German police, but adding that they were ready to provide any necessary assistance.

Moscow has yet to comment on the matter, with the Russian Embassy in Germany indicating that it has no information to report. In his comments on Wednesday, Maas said he had not contacted his Russian counterparts.

Also on Wednesday, German news magazine Focus Online reported that David S provided Russian intelligence with documents on counterterrorism operations related to as yet-unknown countries on at least one occasion in exchange for an unknown amount of money.

The magazine indicated that it was "quite unusual" that the suspect was not thought to have enjoyed diplomatic immunity despite his work for the British Embassy. Ordinarily, it noted, diplomatic liaison officers are declared "personae non grata" and expelled, not prosecuted, if it is suspected that they are engaged in improper or illegal activities.