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British embassy spy sentenced to 13 years for leaking secrets to Russia

British embassy security guard who fed secrets to Russian agents and put the safety of his colleagues in peril has been jailed for more than 13 years for espionage.

David Ballantyne Smith, 58, was driven by a hatred of the UK when he became a traitor, collecting secret and sensitive papers and images over the course of four years.
The Scottish-born former RAF serviceman operated under the direction of a Russian agent, and shot a video inside the Berlin embassy where he worked.

The hour-long footage featured images of the families of embassy workers, the exact locations of their offices, and a confidential report from British cabinet ministers to then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

After hearing evidence from Smith, Mr Justice Wall conclude he was “paid for treachery” by the Russian, and had made a “dedicated” attempt to leak useful secrets.

At the Old Bailey on Friday, Smith was sentenced to 13 years and two months for eight breaches of the Official Secrets Act.

“You were paid by the Russians for your treachery”, said the judge.

He said Smith’s job “imposed on you a high level of trust and responsibility – it was your job to ensure the embassy was secure and its staff safe.
“You had access to restricted areas of the building, at times when no one else was likely to be there.
“When you did what you did, it was the most obvious breach of the trust placed in you.”

The judge said the video inside the embassy had a “considerable amount of information which would be, and you knew would be, useful to a hostile foreign power.

“I’m sure you took this video with that in mind, and this video was always designed to be provided to the Russians.”
He said Smith had “established regular contact” with Russian agents, with “duplicity” continuing right up to his arrest.

And the judge concluded Smith has shown no remorse, and expressions of regret were merely “self pity”.
Smith was snared thanks to a “high stakes” undercover sting operation in August 2021, with agents posing as Russians sent in to capture the security guard in the act.

He had been identified as the likely sender of an anonymous letter to a Russian Major General, offering details of embassy personnel and suggesting more information to come.

One agent attended the embassy as ‘Dmitry’, a Russian spy, and Smith was asked to make copies of confidential documents and destroy SIM card packaging.

He took an extra copy of the documents for himself and held on to the SIM packaging, while he was also caught red-handed taking images of CCTV featuring Dmitry.