Lithuania detains military officer suspected of spying

31st December 2014, Comments 0 comments

Lithuania said Wednesday it detained a military officer for alleged espionage, possibly for Russia, in the latest Cold War-style incident amid heightened tensions between Moscow and the West.

The air force officer, whose name was not released, is suspected "of spying for a foreign country by providing it with information, including classified data", the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The person who received the information was also detained, it added, without specifying the individual's nationality or the country involved.

The officer was detained in Siauliai, northern Lithuania, Elena Martinoniene, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, told AFP.

Siauliai is home to a NATO air base from which the Western defence alliance's members have been taking turns policing Baltic skies since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined in 2004.

NATO stepped up the mission after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March, fearing Russia would try to destabilise the region.

Arturas Paulauskas, who heads the Lithuanian parliament's national security and defence committee, said "it was highly probable" that the suspect was providing information from the base to Russia.

"Russia's secret services are very interested in any information related to our security," he told AFP.

It is Lithuania's third espionage case in just two months.

Prosecutors have already charged a former employee of a state-owned air traffic control company and a military medic with spying for neighbouring Belarus, a close Russian ally.

Russia's secret service meanwhile revealed in December that it had an agent inside Estonia's secret police for 15 years.

Moscow has also been holding an Estonian police officer on charges of espionage since September. Estonia claims Russia snatched him at gunpoint from inside its territory.

© 2014 AFP

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