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Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Wednesday it had detained a Lithuanian intelligence officer. Lithuanian officials have not provided any comment on the report.
Russia claims to have caught Lithuanian spy
© Scanpix

According to the FSB report, the Lithuanian citizen was busted red-handed in Moscow on Tuesday after being handed documents with classified information by a Russian citizen.

"On 19 May, the Russian FSB in Moscow detained a Lithuanian citizen, an employee of the unlawful intelligence of the Republic of Lithuania. The foreign intelligence agent was caught with evidence after receiving documents with classified information from a Russian citizen," the FSB press service said.

According to the press release, the Lithuanian citizen is currently held in custody at the Lefertov detention centre in Moscow.

Russia's FSB claims that, during an interrogation, the Lithuanian officer admitted he was an officer of the Lithuanian Defence Ministry's Second Investigation Department, the Interfax news agency reports.

A court in Moscow's Lefortovo District later sanctioned the arrest of the Lithuanian citizen, identified as Aristidas Tamošaitis, for two months. A court spokeswoman said that he was officially charged with espionage.

Lithuania's Ministry of National Defence does not comment on this type of reports, the ministry's spokeswoman Asta Galdikaitė told BNS.

Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was informed by Russia about the detention of a Lithuanian citizen.

Foreign Minister Linkevičius said that diplomats would try to meet with the detained Lithuanian.

"Our embassy has received official information from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) about the detention of, they said, a Lithuanian citizen whose name was also disclosed. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, we are going to ask for a meeting with the detained person and will also check all the remaining details," the minister told journalists.

The detention follows the arrest of a Russian citizen in Lithuania three weeks ago, who, prosecutors say, is an FSB employee. Detained on 29 April, the Russian citizen "carried out an intelligence operation against Lithuania, aimed at penetrating Lithuania's governing institutions, Lithuanian law-enforcement and intelligence services,” the Prosecutor General's Office said.

It's already a fourth spying case disclosed by Lithuanian law enforcement and intelligence over the last year.

Last year, the State Security Department detained two people who allegedly cooperated with the Belarusian military intelligence service (GRU), including Romuald Lipskij, a former employee of state enterprise Oro Navgacija (Air Navigation), and Andrej Osurkov, a former paramedic of the Lithuanian army. The two cases are now in court.

On the last day of 2014, an officer of the Lithuanian Air Force was detained, suspected of having spied for a foreign state and presented information, including classified, that was of interest for the foreign state. The person to whom the detained army officer gave the collected information was also detained. The foreign state the two suspects spied for was not disclosed then and no additional information about this case has been published so far.

"The spy wars are hotting up," British journalist Edward Lucas, the author of the 2011 book Deception: Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West, told BNS on Wednesday.

"We have been expecting a spy swap for some time. Maybe these are happening but not being publicized," he said, asked by BNS whether a spy exchange was likely.

Former Lithuanian National Defence Minister Rasa Juknevičienė, now on the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence, says Russia might try to swap the alleged spy for the one detained by Lithuania.

"First of all, we need to know whether that information is correct. They have probably detained somebody because they have said that. But who's that? Is it really an employee of our services and was he really spying? It might be a response to the case of the Russian Federation citizen detained in Lithuania. Or perhaps they just want to set a precedent for a swap. I am only guessing since I have the same amount of information you have," she told BNS.

BNS
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