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14 Jun, 2007 15:20

Austria arrests Russian on spying suspicion

A Russian employee of the Russian Federal Space Agency has been arrested on suspicion of military espionage in Austria. Authorities say the man was detained on Germany's request, as he's also suspected of spying there.

The FSA employee was arrested on Monday in the town of Gmunden in upper Austria. The prosecution has not yet revealed the man's identity in the interests of investigation.

The Russian embassy in Austria has filed an official protest to the Austrian Foreign Ministry on the arrest.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry says it is making every effort to resolve the situation. The Russian Federal Space agency said it was surprised at the incident and would closely follow further developments. The company also said the suspect was an excellent employee, who always performed his duties well.

“The employee of the Federal Space Agency is taking part in the 50th anniversary session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Use of the Outer Space. I would like to stress that he is an official member of the Russian delegation. He has only been characterised in a very positive way for his work in the agency. We hope that the situation will be resolved successfully in the coming days. We in the Federal Space Agency have not received any official documents regarding this issue,” said Igor Panarin, Federal Space Agency Press Secretary.

The police also detained an Austrian air force officer for reportedly passing on secret information. According to an Austrian newspaper “Kurier”, he had many contacts with civilian firms in Germany and could have supplied the alleged spy with electronic research data.

Both men have reportedly been under surveillance by the intelligence services for some time.

The Russian citizen is currently being held in the town of Salzburg but the prosecution says he later may be deported to Germany, to face the same charges there.