Captain had access to documents concerning defence, NATO.
Italy expelled two Russian officials on Wednesday after an Italian Navy captain was allegedly caught red-handed selling secret documents to a Russian military officer.
The Italian frigate Captain was arrested on spying charges after a “clandestine meeting” with the Russian late on Tuesday in Rome, according to a police statement.
Special operations police stopped both men but only the Italian was arrested. He is accused of passing on “confidential documents” in exchange for money.
The Russian, an Embassy official, avoided custody thanks to diplomatic immunity, police said.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio summoned Russia’s Ambassador to Rome, Sergey Razov, on Wednesday morning to lodge a formal protest.
The diplomat was notified of “the immediate expulsion of the two Russian officials involved in this very serious affair”, Mr. Di Maio said.
According to La Repubblica newspaper, the Navy Captain worked at the office of Chief of the Defence Staff and had access “to a wide range of documents” concerning both Italian defence and NATO activities.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper said the captain was paid €5,000 in cash by the Russian.
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