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Germany arrests British Embassy worker suspected of spying for Russia

"On at least one occasion, he passed on documents ... to a representative of a Russian intelligence service," German police said.
Image: A police vehicle outside the British Embassy on Aug.11, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.
A police vehicle sits outside the British Embassy in Berlin on Wednesday, after an embassy worker identified only as David S. was arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia.Carsten Koall / Getty Images

A British Embassy worker in Berlin suspected of spying for Russia was arrested Tuesday in connection with allegedly handing documents to Moscow.

In a statement released Wednesday, German prosecutors said the British national, identified only as David S., 57, was arrested by police over suspicions he handed documents to the Russian intelligence service in exchange for cash.

"On at least one occasion, he passed on documents he had obtained in the course of his professional activities to a representative of a Russian intelligence service," Germany's chief federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The prosecutor's office said the embassy worker, who has not been named in full due to German law, was arrested Tuesday in Potsdam, just outside Berlin.

The Briton's home and workplace were also searched as part of the investigation, it said.

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His arrest was the product of joint investigations conducted by German and British authorities.

In a statement published Wednesday, London's Metropolitan Police confirmed that a 57-year-old British national had been arrested as part of a joint probe between the department's Counter Terrorism Command and German authorities.

"The man was arrested in the Berlin area on suspicion of committing offenses relating to being engaged in ‘Intelligence Agent activity’," the Met said.

A spokesperson for Britain's Home Office confirmed the arrest, but said: "It would not be appropriate to comment further as there is an ongoing police investigation."

David S. is expected to appear before a judge representing Germany's Federal Court of Justice on Wednesday.

His arrest has already been compared to the espionage seen during the Cold War, when the double agent Kim Philby and other British spies known as the "Cambridge Five" passed information on to the Soviet Union.

Britain's Security Service, MI5, recently warned the public that the threat of spying from countries such as Russia and China should be treated with as much vigilance as terrorism.

During a speech in July at Thames House, MI5's London headquarters, Director General Ken McCallum warned that foreign spies sought to corrupt public figures, sow discord and damage infrastructure with malicious cyberattacks, according to Reuters.

Both Moscow and Beijing have previously denied accusations of meddling abroad, however, instead suggesting that the West has been overcome with paranoia over suspected plotting.

NBC News has contacted the Russian government and Russia's Federal Security Service and Foreign Intelligence Service for comment.