Italy on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of two Russian embassy officials and arrested an Italian Navy captain on espionage charges after police caught him allegedly handing over classified documents to one of the Russians in exchange for money.
The Italian Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Russian ambassador, Sergey Razov, and protested the serious incident following an undercover operation outside Rome that allegedly caught the Italian and one of the Russians in what police called a clandestine operation to exchange the documents Tuesday night.
The Italian officer, who is a frigate captain, was taken into custody, Italy’s paramilitary police, the Carabinieri, said in a statement. The Russian who was with him, a member of his country’s armed forces stationed at the embassy in Italy, was arrested but was not held because of his diplomatic status.
Authorities ordered his expulsion, along with that of another official at the diplomatic legation in Moscow allegedly involved in the plot, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a Facebook post. The chancellor did not offer further details on the alleged role of the second man.
According to the Carabinieri, the two men were charged with serious crimes relating to espionage and state security.
The Russian embassy in Rome confirmed the arrest of a diplomat who is part of the military attaché’s office, but did not comment further on the incident.
In any case, we hope that it will not affect bilateral relations,” it said in a statement.