25 years of spying for Russia? Charges brought against Austrian colonel

Last week, Salzburg prosecutor’s office sent an indictment against a retired Austrian colonel to a local court. For at least 25 years, he had allegedly been helping Russia’s military intelligence.

The 71-year-old officer is accused of espionage to the detriment of Austria, revealing highly classified information and deliberately disclosig military secrets. The months-long investigation into the case has being carried out by the local department for the protection of the Constitution and combating terrorism.

According to previous findings, the man established his first contacts with the then Soviet (now Russian) Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) during his foreign mission. In 1993, he started providing the Russians with information about the Austrian army, in particular, about weapon systems and operational tasks of the country’s land forces and aviation.

His activity was part of the ‘organized agent network’; it continued after the accused person’s retirement, the prosecutor’s office states. In total, he received several hundred thousand euros from his Russia ‘partners’.

The local media reported about exposing a Russian agent who was a colonel in the Austrian army in November, 2018. Amid the spy scandal, Austria’s Minister for Europe Karin Kneissl canceled his visit to Russia. Earlier, Kneissl hit the world headlines when she invited Russian leader Vladimir Putin to her wedding and danced with him at the event.

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