Inside Brit spys twisted Berlin flat – complete with bizarre shrine to Russia

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    A British double agent who sold secrets to Putin kept Russian military memorabilia and history books about Nazism in his creepy Germany flat.

    David Ballantyne Smith, 57, was jailed today (February 17) after he was caught trying to pass sensitive information on to Russian attaches in Berlin, where he worked as a British embassy guard.

    During a major sting operation, investigators raided Smith's flat in Potsdam, southwest of Berlin, where they found documents marked “secret” thought to have been prepared to be passed on to Russia.

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    Police also found €800 (£700) that he was unable to account for.

    But these weren't the only dodgy discoveries made in the rogue security guard's rented one-bed apartment – Smith, originally from Paisley, near Glasgow, also seemed to use the living quarters as a bizarre shrine to Russia.

    Bookshelves, which could be seen through his front window from outside, were full of texts on military history including two about Hitler's criminal SS 12th Panzer Division.

    More literature stashed in the flat included the self-published book The Trigger by David Icke.

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    Smith kept two Russian flags in the living room up – a larger one propped up in the corner, and a smaller one which was found on the floor near a TV.

    The guard, who also admitted to "hating" the UK when he was caught, displayed three Soviet military caps in the living room which could also be seen from the front window.

    One of the caps was being worn by a stuffed Rottweiler dog toy on the floor, while another had been placed on top of a bookshelf and the third was found lying on his sofa.

    Other memorabilia found in the guard's home included military badges from the Russian Baltic, Black Sea, Northern, and Pacific fleets.

    But bizarrely, not all of the less common items in the man's home were military-themed.

    Smith also kept books on embroidery, a collection of stuffed toys, a PlayStation, and floral decorations in his property, and had a number of books on psychology adorning his shelves alongside his more concerning literature.

    One of the books was entitled Sex: The Complete Illustrated Guide, while another was called Psychological Influence.

    Suspicion around Smith started to grow around November 2020, and he was ultimately detained by German officials in August 2021.

    He was caught after German police convinced him he was speaking with a member of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence organisation.

    Smith was also found taking videos of the British Embassy's CCTV systems and filming a whiteboard inside the embassy which contained information on several members of staff.

    It is thought the information he passed on detailed the identities and schedules of British embassy staff understood to have been regarded as useful by the Russian state.

    He may also have been aware of the embassy building's security arrangements.

    Smith was accused of keeping in contact with General Major Sergey Chukhurov between October 31 and December 1, 2020, although it is thought he may have been spying for Russia for as long as 15 months.

    The ex-guard pleaded guilty and admitted he "hated" the UK when he appeared at the Old Bailey, where he was handed his 13-year-two-month sentence.

    Mr Justice Wall had previously said he would sentence Smith on the basis he had an “ongoing relationship with someone at the Russian embassy”.

    The judge said: “He was paid for his treachery and he was motivated by his antipathy towards this country and intended to damage this country’s interests by acting as he did.”

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