Lithuania Charges Former State Employee in Spying Row

Lithuania charged a former employee at the state-owned aviation company with spying for Belarus, after a three-year intelligence operation.

A second Lithuanian citizen, also suspected of spying, is under pre-trial investigation that may take “weeks or months” to complete, Deputy Prosecutor General Darius Raulusaitis said at a news conference in Vilnius today.

The alleged spy, from the capital Vilnius and identified only by the initials R.L., was arrested a year ago on suspicion he collected and passed on information about the Lithuanian military, its divisions, and companies of strategic importance to national security. The person took photographs of documents and other objects in his office at Oro Navigacija, Lithuania’s sole provider of air traffic services, navigation and surveillance, then transferred them to the Belarus Armed Forces’ General Staff, Raulusaitis said.

“It’s likely that this information that was passed on to Belarus is also being exchanged with Russia,” he said.

Passing information to Belarus “is the same to us” as spying for Russia, Gediminas Grina, head of Lithuania’s State Security Department, said at the same news conference. Belarus, a former Soviet republic, has close ties with Russia and the two countries have formed a Customs Union with Kazakhstan.

The Lithuanian citizen faces as many as 15 years in jail if found guilty of espionage.

Estonia, another former Soviet Baltic republic, has jailed three former security and defense officials since 2009, in three separate cases, for passing secrets to Russian intelligence. The last conviction was in October 2013.

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