Last night an Italian Navy frigate captain and a Russian soldier serving at the embassy in Rome were caught in the act of crime and arrested for espionage. The accusation: the Italian officer was handing over documents in exchange for money. The arrested frigate captain would have been on duty at the Defense Staff, the headquarters of our Defense, from which he would have had access to material relating to Italy but also to NATO. Instead, the legal position of the Russian military is being evaluated in light of his diplomatic status.
This was revealed by Repubblica, which speaks of a “very serious episode” which “shows how our country is also involved in the new Russian offensive strategy. In addition to the activities of influence denounced in recent years, such as the disinformation campaigns launched on anonymous social profiles and the news spread by organs close to the Kremlin to delegitimize the Italian government, now there is the accusation of an openly hostile initiative, such as espionage “. THE OFFICER Walter Biot
is the name of the naval officer arrested for espionage. He learns the Ansa from investigative sources. The frigate captain Biot, again according to what has been learned, is on duty at the Military Policy office of the Defense Staff. THE EXCHANGE
The Russian military reportedly gave the frigate captain 5,000 euros in exchange for classified military documents that would concern military telecommunication systems. The money was seized at the time of the exchange after the intervention of the Ros. Based on what is learned, the two had also agreed on a lower figure, about 4,000 euros, for the transfer of documents in the past. Against the Italian military, currently detained, the accusation and procurement of news concerning the security of the State, political and military espionage, dissemination of news whose disclosure is prohibited. THE RECRUITMENT
Repubblica also explains that “the reasons for the betrayal would be of an economic nature: he would have agreed to sell classified information in exchange for money, probably to face serious family problems”. It therefore seems a classic case of espionage, in which recruitment takes place by exploiting the personal weaknesses of the target: and the letter “m” of the acronym for espionage Mice (money, ie money, ideology, coercion, ego). THE ITALIAN REACTION
In relation to what was reported by the press about the operation conducted yesterday by the Carabinieri del Ros, under the direction of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome, the Farnesina announced that the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elisabetta Belloni, summoned the Russian ambassador Sergey Razov to the ministry this morning – on the instructions of Minister Luigi Di Maio . Minister Di Maio announced that he had transmitted to the diplomat “the firm protest of the Italian government and notified the immediate expulsion of the two Russian officials involved in this very serious affair. I thank our intelligence and all the state apparatuses that work every day for the security of our country ”, he added in a statement. At the hearing in the Senate, the head of the Farnesina spoke of a “hostile act”. WAITING FOR THE RUSSIAN MOVES
“We confirm the arrest on March 30 in Rome of an official from the office of the military attaché”, the Russian embassy in Rome announced in the morning. “The circumstances of what happened are verified. For now we consider it inappropriate to comment on the contents of what happened. In any case, we hope that what happened will not be reflected in the bilateral relations between Russia and Italy ”. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated as follows to Ansa: “We are sorry for the expulsion from Rome of two employees of the Russian embassy. We are investigating the circumstances of this decision. We will make a further announcement on our possible steps in relation to this measure, which does not correspond to the level of bilateral relations ”. PREVIOUS
At the end of the Cold War there was the case of the Warsaw Pact spies who tried to get their hands on the documents of the Oto Melara of La Spezia and of a Trieste-based company that was collaborating in the project of a NATO communications system. Then, as Repubblica explained, “‘Italy had always appeared as the chessboard where pawns from other countries challenged each other, a sort of free port for international plots, where to move confused among tourists and the abundance of embassies”. Several known cases: in 2016 a Portuguese intelligence executive was arrested in Trastevere while he was meeting Sergey Nicolaevich Pozdnyakov, Russian official with diplomatic passport, to sell him action plans of the Atlantic Alliance. And last August a French lieutenant colonel serving in the NATO command in Naples was arrested by the French services for his collaboration with Russia, the nature of which has remained top secret.
A few months ago on Formiche.net we underlined how the data breach conducted from inside the Leonardo plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, in the province of Naples, confirmed once more the fact that Italy, perhaps even more than other Western countries , and a land with a very high concentration of espionage operations in the political-military, economic, scientific and industrial fields.
And it was not an isolated case. Just think of the episode – also in Pomigliano d’Arco – of a Russian citizen,Alexander Korshunov , accused of industrial espionage against Avio Aero (GE Aviation) and arrested on a US mandate from the FBI. Here is what we wrote:
The story presented elements of great concern and despite the request of the US Department of Justice, this summer the Minister of Justice Alfonso Bonafede preferred to return the alleged spy to Vladimir Putin ‘s Russia . Obviously, Pomigliano d’Arco is not a coincidence but neither is it a den of 007 foreigners. The town of the Neapolitan and an important place of the aeronautical and defense industry. And for this reason it is clearly a highly sensitive target, on a par with other particularly significant districts (such as the Piedmontese one).
This precedent represents hope for the Russian military arrested last night. And it’s not the only one. Suffice it to say that Pozdnyakov’s arrest had caused a tug-of-war between Rome and Moscow, which challenged the Portuguese arrest warrant and reaffirmed the diplomatic protection of their compatriot. A thesis later recognized by the Italian judiciary, which after two months had released the Russian official.

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