An handout image released by the Metropolitan Police Service on February 17, 2023, shows a still from a covert camera during Russian spy David Smith's meeting with "Irina", a undercover UK agent, on August 9, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

LONDON: A former security guard at the UK’s Berlin embassy, who admitted spying for Moscow, was on Friday jailed for over 13 years under the Official Secrets Act.

David Ballantyne Smith, 58, was caught in a sting operation after passing sensitive material to the Russian embassy in Germany.

Jailing him for 13 years and two months at the Old Bailey court in central London, Judge Mark Wall told him: “You were paid by Russia for your treachery.”

“Your motive in assisting them (the Russians) was to damage British interests,” he added.

The judge, who earlier rejected Smith’s claims he only passed information to Moscow twice to cause “embarrassment” to the UK, described his offending as “extensive and serious” and said he had shown no real remorse.

He told Smith his culpability was “high”, had copied a “significant amount of material over the years” and put staff at the embassy at risk of harm.

The military veteran, originally from Paisley in western Scotland, had worked at the Berlin embassy for five years.

Prosecutors said earlier that Smith first wrote to the Russian embassy in 2020, revealing details of British embassy staff and suggesting further contact.

After the UK and German authorities found out about this, they devised a plot to try to catch Smith in the act.

Fake spies

Smith was told that a Russian citizen called Dmitry - in reality a UK agent - wanted to visit the British embassy to pass on sensitive information.

Smith then copied CCTV footage of “Dmitry” inside the embassy and took packaging from a phone SIM card given to him.

spy 1-1676636267231
A still from a covert camera of Russian spy David Smith taking video of CCTV monitors in the British Embassy security kiosk in Belrin on August 6, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Another UK agent later approached Smith pretending to be “Irina”, an operative in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.

He was arrested at his flat soon afterwards in August 2021 and later extradited to the UK.

Smith told the court this week he felt “ashamed” when he saw the British embassy staff he had betrayed.

He claimed he had only wanted to cause “inconvenience and embarrassment”.

But the court heard Smith later made several videos of sensitive areas inside the embassy building.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan said Smith filmed offices in detail, showing their precise locations.

She asked him: “Who was directing those videos?”

Smith said: “No one at all” and claimed he was drunk at the time.

He denied being paid but around 800 euros (around $857) in cash was found at his home that could not be accounted for, the court heard.

Smith is married to a Ukrainian woman who moved back to her home country in 2018.