British spy who passed secrets to Putin jailed for more than 13 years

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The former security guard started gathering secret papers out of hatred for the UK and support for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. In 2020, he wrote two letters to top Russian Embassy staffers, one of which revealed the name of a diplomat who had served in Russia, designated as X, as well as information about coworkers.

In a televised sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday, Mr Justice Wall jailed the ex-RAF serviceman to 13 years and two months.

Police launched an investigation after Smith’s second letter to a military attache at the Russian Embassy in November 2020 was traced back to him.

In an undercover sting operation in August 2021, two role players were deployed as a fake Russian defector and intelligence officer.

Following his arrest, police found Smith’s stash of sensitive and secret documents, including correspondence to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson from ministers.

The court was told of “potentially catastrophic” consequences for “each and every” British official in Berlin, with the cost to the taxpayer of updating security estimated at £820,000.

Embassy staff were left with “feelings of anger, betrayal and upset and concern at the implications of their details being shared with a hostile state actor”, the court heard.

Smith’s spying could have harmed Britain’s international trade negotiations and came at a time the UK was “calling out” Russian actions, including amassing vast numbers of troops on the Ukraine border.

Mr Justice Wall had dismissed Smith’s evidence, including his claim that he only wanted to embarrass the embassy.

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The judge ruled that the evidence showed Smith was taking money from Russia as part of an “ongoing” relationship.

He had collected material since 2018 with a view to handing it over “at some stage”, the judge found.

Smith may even have been directed by his handler when he filmed private offices, including photographs of colleagues’ family and friends on their desks.

Previously, the court heard of the meticulous joint operation between British and German police and MI5 that led to Smith’s arrest.

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On August 5 2021, Smith was asked by an embassy staff member to escort an undercover operative posing as Russian defector “Dmitry” into the building. Smith made a copy of a document Dmitry had brought and kept Sim card packaging with the defector’s phone number on it rather than destroying it as he had been instructed

Later in his security kiosk, Smith was shown on covert film using a small camera to record about 45 seconds of CCTV capturing Dmitry’s visit saying: “If he works at the embassy they will know him.”

A few days later, Smith was accosted at a tram stop by fake Russian spy Irina who said somebody was passing on information that was “damaging to Russia”. He appeared sceptical, saying it had been “sprung on me” and he needed to speak to “someone”, in an apparent reference to his handler.

In his evidence, Smith said he was now “ashamed” at his behaviour and counted himself as a proud Scot.

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