VIENNA, November 10. /TASS/. The retired Austrian colonel suspected of spying for Russia attended NATO seminars and transferred information obtained there to Russian special services, Salzburger Nachrichten daily reported on Friday.
According to the newspaper, the colonel attended NATO seminars through partnership programs and transferred data collected there to Russia. Austria is not part of the North Atlantic Alliance, and the country maintains a neutral status.
The colonel was interested in the so-called "soft information" - weaknesses of influential people, their favorite foods and drinks, public opinion in different army units. He also transferred to Moscow contact data from the Austrian Armed Forces' corporate network, the daily added.
The Austrian authorities are investigating a 70-year-old retired army colonel who has allegedly transferred information on the migrant crisis, Austria's military aviation and artillery systems to Russia’s military intelligence since the late 1990s. The Austrian Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated a criminal case against the retired colonel. If found guilty, he may face up to ten years behind bars. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek confirmed the espionage probe was underway.
Kurz earlier said that Kneissl had cancelled her visit to Russia, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted there had been no queries from Vienna to Moscow over its suspicions.