13 years in prison sentence for former guard of the British Embassy in Berlin for spying for Russia
On Friday, a former guard at the British Embassy in Berlin was sentenced to 13 years and two months in prison for being convicted of spying for Moscow in a case in which he pleaded guilty after being caught red-handed.
David Ballantine Smith, 58, had admitted transferring sensitive materials to the Russian embassy in Germany, and he was arrested at the time in an intelligence operation.
When pronouncing the verdict at the hearing held at the Old Bailey Court in central London, Judge Mark Wall said, addressing the convict, “David Ballantine Smith paid you for your treachery, and his motive was harming British interests”.
On Thursday, the judge had indicated that he would judge Smith on the basis of “his existing relationship with Moscow and his receipt of money for this betrayal”.
The judge dismissed Smith’s arguments that he had passed information to Moscow twice only with the aim of causing embarrassment to the UK.
The judge stressed that Smith acted “motivated by his hatred for his country and intended, through his behavior, to harm the interests of his country”.
The veteran military descendant of Paisley in western Scotland had worked at the embassy in Berlin for five years.
The prosecution said that Smith made the first contact with the Russian embassy in 2020, revealed details of the British embassy staff and offered further communication.
After the British and German authorities learned of this, they prepared a plan to catch Smith red-handed.
Smith is informed that a Russian citizen named Dmitry is in fact a British agent, who wants to visit the British Embassy to pass on sensitive information.
It was then that Smith obtained footage of “Dmitry” inside the embassy, captured by surveillance cameras, and received a sim card from him.
Later, a British agent contacted him, claiming that she was called “Irina” and she works in Russian military intelligence.
In a secret video recording, Smith told her, “I don’t trust the bastards I work for” and “I don’t want to be in Germany… I am stuck here in the Nazi bastards’ country”.
He was shortly arrested at his apartment in August 2021 and subsequently deported to the United Kingdom.
This week Smith told the court he felt ashamed when he saw the embassy staff he had betrayed.
He said all he wanted was to cause annoyance and embarrassment.
During the case, prosecutors showed video recordings that Smith later took of sensitive sections of the embassy building.
Attorney General Allison Morgan said that Smith took detailed video recordings of a number of offices, showing their precise locations.
Morgan asked country, who asked to take these video recordings, and he replied, “No one at all,” indicating that he was drunk at the time.
Smith denied receiving any money for what was attributed to him, but it was found that he possessed an additional amount of money in the year 2020 and found in his home about 800 Euros in cash, the source of which was unknown, according to the court.
In his apartment, investigators found Russian memorabilia, especially a teddy bear wearing a Russian hat.
In his private locker at his workplace, he found a caricature of Russian President Vladimir Putin holding the head of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Records revealed that David Smith is married to a Ukrainian woman who was reported that she returned to settle in eastern Ukraine in 2018.