Today he says he is ashamed of his actions. David Ballantyne Smith, a 58-year-old former security guard at the British embassy in Berlin, was sentenced on Friday to 13 years and two months in prison for spying for Moscow. He was caught sending sensitive documents to the Russian embassy in Berlin.
“You established regular contact with someone at the Russian embassy, and that contact enabled you to share documents that you had obtained illegally,” Justice Mark Wall said. “You were paid by Russia for your treason,” he added.
undermining British interests
When the verdict was announced, the ex-soldier, dressed in a sweater and blue jeans, looked concentrated, held his helmet in his hands and could clearly hear the judge’s decision. He had pleaded guilty to eight charges and in particular admitted breach of official secrecy. During his trial, he justified his actions by saying he “wanted to give the embassy a little slap in the face” because he felt they were not treating him well, but Judge Mark Wall dismissed his arguments.
“I have come to the conclusion that the defendant’s main motivation for his actions was that he felt a dislike for the United Kingdom and wished to undermine the interests of that country by providing information to a state then, as now, considered to be.” unkind,” he said on Thursday.
800 euros in cash
This man, who was married to a Ukrainian who returned to his country’s east in 2018 and was working at the British Embassy in Berlin, had been spotted by British and German authorities after he sent a letter in 2020 with the contact details of some staff members the British Embassy to a member of the military staff of the Russian Embassy in Berlin.
He also made several videos of sensitive areas in the embassy building, and 800 euros in cash were found at his home without being able to credibly explain the origin, the public prosecutor emphasized. A trap involving two fake Russian agents had been set to catch him in the act and he was arrested in August 2021.
Souvenirs from Russia and Putin cartoon
Prosecutors also pointed out that David Smith “made anti-Western and anti-NATO statements to fellow staffers and reiterated his support” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Investigators had found Russian memorabilia in his apartment, including a life-size stuffed Rottweiler dog wearing a Russian military hat. A caricature of Vladimir Putin with the head of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also found in his locker at his workplace.
The defendant, who was extradited to the UK in April 2022, said on Tuesday that he wanted to “teach the embassy a lesson” but had not been paid for it. “Now that I’ve had a year and a half to look back, I’m disgusted with myself and ashamed of what I’ve done,” he said.