: Court jails senior Polish officer as Russian spy

10:56 May. 31, 2016

Court jails senior Polish officer as Russian spy

According to Polish law, spying for foreign states leads to 15 years behind bars. (GettyImages)

The arrested man is said to have been spying for Moscow while working in Poland's Defence Ministry

A Polish military court on Monday sentenced a high-ranking officer to six years behind bars after convicting him of spying for Russia. The former lieutenant-colonel, identified only as Zbigniew J., had faced a 15-year maximum sentence at his trial behind closed doors at a military tribunal in Warsaw. In the end, he received a relatively light sentence after cooperating with authorities. Apart from imprisonment, the former spy has been banned from his civil rights for the next 5 years, as well as obliged to pay 4,000 U.S. dollars fine.

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The officer was arrested in October 2014 while working at the defence ministry's department of education and publicity. The prosecutor's office charged him of fulfilling the tasks of foreign intelligence and information disclosing that could have endangered Poland's state security. The Sejm commission deputies involved in the case claim the officer was spying for Russian intelligence service (GRU).

Another person named Stanisław Sz., a lawyer holding both Polish and Russian nationalities, was also arrested in a simultaneous raid. He has been charged with spying for Moscow but is still awaiting trial. Prosecutors said the two cases were linked, but refused to confirm whether the men were suspected of having worked together. Earlier this month, the leader of a small pro-Kremlin political party was also arrested on suspicion of spying.

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In January, fellow EU and NATO member Estonia jailed three cigarette smugglers for spying for Russia's secret services. That incident followed a Cold War-style spy swap between Russia and Estonia in September on a bridge spanning their shared border.

Poland, a former Eastern Bloc member, and Estonia, a former Soviet republic, are among the most vocal of NATO members demanding the alliance beef up its eastern defences in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and the pro-Moscow revolt in eastern Ukraine that followed, prompted the worst stand-off between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Read also Caught red-handed: Russian drones over Ukrainian skies

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