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Italy arrests navy captain for alleged spying for Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Italian navy captain has been detained on suspicion of spying for Russia. (File photo)

Italy has arrested a navy captain on suspicion of spying for Russia, according to Italian police.

Italy’s federal police authority said in a statement on Wednesday that the navy captain had been caught during a secret meeting with a Russian military officer.

“Carabinieri intervened during a clandestine meeting between the two, immediately after the transfer of a document by the Italian officer in exchange for a sum of money,” the statement read, referring to the federal police by its Italian name.

“Both are accused of serious crimes tied to spying and state security,” it added.

The statement explained, however, that only the Italian was arrested. According to the statement, the Russian officer, a purported embassy official, could not be arrested because of his diplomatic immunity.

The Italian police said the suspected spy in the navy had been found following lengthy investigations led by the country’s domestic intelligence agency AISI, with support from the Chief of the Defense Staff.

Reacting to the development, Italy’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Russian ambassador to Rome, Sergey Razov, for serious talks.

There was no immediate reaction from Russia.

The arrest came amid rising tensions between Moscow and Western governments, especially after the arrest and imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. The European Union (EU) has imposed sanctions against senior Russian officials over the matter, which Moscow says is internal.

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