Authorities in Austria said on Monday they investigate a 39-year-old Greek citizen on espionage. The suspect is said to have worked as a spy for Russian military intelligence service GRU.
The suspect, who faces up to five years in prison for “supporting a secret intelligence agency to the detriment of Austria”, is not being remanded in custody, the Austrian Interior Ministry said, adding that undefined further steps would be taken by the justice system.
The 39-year-old Greek citizen of Russian descent is suspected of having been spying for a Russian secret service to the detriment of Austria for several years.
He is the son of a former Russian intelligence worker who was stationed in Germany and Austria as a diplomat during his active service.
The investigations by the “Directorate of State Security and Intelligence” (DSN) were conducted on behalf of the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office and in close international cooperation.
The 39-year-old, who is said to have received special military training in Russia, was in contact with diplomats and intelligence officials from various countries and was in Moscow shortly before and during the military invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.
There is a suspicion that he was used as a source of information on foreign policy, the society as a whole and security policy within the Austrian population, the country and the press and was therefore brought to Moscow to assess possible reactions from abroad in the run-up to the military operation.
The suspect is and has hardly ever been employed in the past and therefore receives few social benefits in Austria.
Nevertheless, in the period from 2018 to the beginning of 2022 he was able to make a total of 65 trips to other European countries as well as to Russia, Belarus, Turkey and Georgia and to acquire several properties in Vienna, Russia and Greece.
According to Greek media, it was these many trips of “the spy” that alerted the Austrian authorities
During a search of the suspect’s premises, a signal detector that can detect wiretapping devices and hidden cameras, as well as a flak suit, were found, among other things, Mobile phones, laptops and tablets were seized, on which a total of ten million files were stored evaluated.
The DSN submitted the final report to the Vienna public prosecutor on December 15, 2022.
“The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine also posed major challenges for the protection of the constitution. Thanks to the meticulous investigations by state security and close international cooperation, a Russian spy was identified. I would like to thank the investigators for their great work,” said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner.