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Retired Austrian colonel officially charged with espionage for Russia

The Salzburg Prosecutor’s Office claims he used to spy for at least 25 years

VIENNA, November 8. /TASS/. The Prosecutor’s Office in the Austrian city of Salzburg has officially charged a retired Austrian army colonel, detained in November 2018, with espionage for Russia, a prosecution source told TASS on Friday.

"The defendant is charged with espionage activities for Russia’s military intelligence service, the Main Intelligence Directorate, which lasted for at least 25 years, committing a crime related to an intelligence service’s activities against Austria, betraying state secrets and deliberately disclosing military secrets," the Salzburg Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

Espionage case

On November 9, 2018, the Austrian authorities said they had opened an investigation into a retired colonel, suspected of working for Russian intelligence agencies since the 1990s, providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force and artillery, as well as about the migration crisis. According to Vienna, he had been paid 300,000 euro for his services.

If found guilty, he may face up to ten years in prison. The retired colonel was taken into custody on November 30, 2018. According to his lawyer, he denies disclosing Austria’s state secrets.

In July 2019, Austria’s Interior Ministry put Russian national Igor Zaitsev on an international wanted list, saying that he was suspected of working for the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU) and collecting secret information to Austria’s prejudice. The 65-year-old Russian is believed to have recruited the Austrian colonel.