Berlin spy David Smith – who passed information to Russia for money – has been jailed for 13 years and two months.
The 58-year-old former security guard at the British Embassy in Germany admitted eight charges under the Official Secrets Act.
In a televised sentencing, Mr Justice Wall said Smith had developed ‘decidedly anti-British’ feelings and gave the impression to colleagues he was ‘more sympathetic to Russia, in particular president Putin’.
He said: ‘It is self-evident this case demands an immediate prison sentence.’
‘I assess your culpability as high. It was your job to ensure the embassy was secure and its staff was safe.’
The judge said it was impossible to assess the actual harm Smith had caused without knowing how much information was passed on to Russia.
He added: ‘In taking out of the embassy personal details of staff you put all of those staff at risk of harm.’
Berlin spy David Smith (pictured) had an ‘ongoing relationship’ with Russia and was paid for his ‘treachery’, a senior judge has ruled
During his trial The Old Bailey heard that in a letter in November 2020, Smith revealed the identity of a diplomat who had worked in Moscow, identified only as ‘X’ .
He included photographs of other employees and added details of their specific roles at the embassy, the court heard.
Smith told the court he felt ‘ashamed’ when he saw the people he had betrayed afterwards and did not send anything else to the Russian Embassy.
Cross-examining on Wednesday, prosecutor Alison Morgan KC said: ‘You saw X and the people whose photos you sent to the Russians.
‘Presumably you told them you had endangered their safety? At any moment the Russians would know who they were, what role they performed.’
Smith replied: ‘As far as I was concerned the information was already known.
David Smith, 58, has admitted sending classified documents to the Russian Embassy
A photo issued by the Met Police of David Ballantyne Smith taking a video of the CCTV monitors in the British Embassy security kiosk
‘I took the pictures to show the lack of security as I pushed back against the embassy but I assure you I haven’t sent another thing.’
But Ms Morgan told the court that in June 2021, Smith filmed around the embassy, identifying colleagues and even recording personal pictures on their desks.
Smith said: ‘I was p***** when I made the video. It was a good idea at the time.’
Ms Morgan said: ‘These are not drunken videos taken by a teenager and put on TikTok.
‘Your hand appears steady throughout. It’s more than that, because although you say you were ashamed you revealed information about X and other members of staff, those videos show you going to particular offices in the building.
‘You film the name plaque on the door, and when you’ve done that you go into the room and you film the outside space outside the window. The purpose is showing a person who might look at the video here is the name and here is their precise location.
‘What the videos then show is other things – rifling through drawers, walking over to whiteboards, and we see your hands appearing next to particular names, and those names are not accidental drunken choices.’
The prosecution allege that Smith (pictured) holds strong anti-UK views, is in favour of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, and had handed documents over to the hostile state with intent to harm Britain
Smith replied that he did not remember.
Ms Morgan said: ‘How was your guilt in June 2021 when you zoomed in on photos on their desks showing them with their family members and friends?
‘You were filming everything that someone would need to identify that person, to know their relatives, where their offices were located and their phone numbers, and you were being told to do that.
‘When you say you feel guilty, do you want to say now who was directing those videos?’
Smith replied: ‘No-one at all.’
Ms Morgan went on to ask Smith what he knew of the global situation at the time he was making the videos inside the embassy.
Smith said he could only think of the Covid situation at the time.
The prosecutor suggested he would also be aware of Russian forces amassing on the border with Eastern Ukraine, where his wife Svetlana was living.
She said: ‘In this period in 2021 when you were gathering information of this type on video, the Russian forces were gathering on the border of Ukraine and they were gathering on the border of the very area of where your wife lives, weren’t they?’
Photographs taken of his flat included a large Russian Federation flag, various Russian books, a Soviet military hat, a Communist toy Lada car and a life-size cuddly Russian toy Rottweiler dog sporting a military hat
Smith said that he would have seen it if it was on the news.
Ms Morgan asserted he took a close interest in Russian activities, as demonstrated by a cartoon of president Vladimir Putin posted inside his work locker.
In the picture, Putin had his hands around the neck of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in German uniform with the caption: ‘Russia, please free us once again.’
Ms Morgan said: ‘You are working at the embassy for the United Kingdom and you chose to put a particular thing in your locker.
‘It is precisely what Russia was saying as its justification for amassing vast amounts of troops on the border, and it is a cartoon that depicts Angela Merkel as a Nazi.
‘The point being the justification Vladimir Putin was promulgating at the time was he was the one taking action against Nazi oppressors.
‘What is encapsulated in that cartoon is played out in Ukraine.’
Smith replied: ‘I just thought it was funny and my work colleagues even laughed at it.
‘If the Russian troops were amassed on the border of Ukraine I didn’t think they would invade.’
Ms Morgan said that at the time of Smith’s offending the situation with Russia ‘could not have been more finely balanced’ and intelligence, such as Britain’s approach to sanctions, would have been valuable.
Defence barrister Matthew Ryder KC said Smith loved and cared about his country and his interest in ‘alternative truths’ was neither uncommon nor proof of anti-British sentiment.
He said: ‘He has questioned the mainstream view presented in the media. The broadcast of [Russian government-funded] RT was available on Freeview until fairly recently.
‘Social media is teeming with alternative versions of the truth and even world leaders amongst the UK’s allies have espoused alternative truths in recent years that people may think were not well supported.
‘That doesn’t mean he has an ideology contrary to the state. He did have a sympathy for the Donbas. He has explained how that changed after a visit in 2019.
‘To see someone as being pro or anti-UK in binary terms is overly simplistic.’
Paisley-born Smith began collecting secret material over four years and was caught following an undercover sting in August 2021.
The former RAF serviceman has pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Official Secrets Act by committing an act prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state.
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