Austria Investigates Russian Spying Amid Security Concerns

World |Author: Diana Kavardzhikova | April 2, 2024, Tuesday // 10:52|  views


Austria's Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, has summoned the National Security Council amidst mounting suspicions of espionage involving former high-ranking security service officials allegedly spying for Russia.

The investigation, conducted jointly by Austrian publication "Falter" and Germany's "Spiegel," has revealed alarming connections between Egisto Ott, a former employee of the Austrian Internal Security Service, and Martin Weiss, the former head of a department within the service, with Jan Marsalek, a former Wirecard director currently in hiding in Russia.

Reports suggest that Ott and Weiss collaborated with Marsalek to establish a spy cell within Austrian services, allegedly working in Russia's interests. The duo purportedly obtained sensitive information on Marsalek, suspected of long-term collaboration with Russia.

Among the information obtained, German magazine Spiegel highlights details concerning journalists residing in Europe, including investigative journalist Hristo Grozev.  Grozev, who was based in Vienna, was compelled to relocate following his reports on the attempted poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Chancellor Nehammer has labeled the espionage allegations as "serious" and emphasized the imperative of a thorough investigation. He asserts the necessity of safeguarding Austria against potential Russian spy networks.

Despite Austria's neutrality policy, which prohibits the provision of lethal military assistance, Vienna has denounced Russian aggression in Ukraine and extended economic and humanitarian aid to Kyiv. However, Austria maintains significant economic ties with Russia, exemplified by the continued presence of Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International in Russia, despite international sanctions.

Additionally, Nehammer opposes the use of frozen Russian assets' profits to procure weapons for Ukraine. The chancellor's stance reflects Austria's delicate balancing act between maintaining economic relations with Russia while upholding its commitments to European security.

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Tags: Austria, espionage, Russia, security


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