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Espionage

Poland arrests Russian ice-hockey player on spying charges

Poland arrests Russian ice-hockey player on spying charges
Poland's Jaroslaw Rzeszutko (R) and Russia's Maxim Chudinov (C) battle for the puck during the friendly ice hockey match in Krynica, Poland, 10 September 2009. EPA/Grzegorz Momot POLAND OUT

WARSAW, June 30 (Reuters) - Poland has detained a Russian professional ice-hockey player on spying charges, prosecutors said on Friday, describing him as the 14th person that had been arrested from one espionage network.

The player for a first division Polish team was taken into custody in the southern Polish region of Silesia, prosecutors said in a statement. The player and his team were not publicly identified. Prosecutors said he had arrived in Poland in October, 2021.

A key hub for western military supplies to Ukraine, Poland says it has become a major target for Russian spies and it accuses Moscow of trying to destabilise the country.

“Russian spies are falling in one by one!” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro wrote on Twitter. “A spy who acted under the guise of an athlete was caught. The Russian was a player of a first division club.”

According to prosecutors he carried out activities including identifying critical infrastructure, for which he received payment. He will be kept in pre-trial detention and could face up to 10 years in prison.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow had demanded an explanation from Poland over its arrest of Russian citizens, state news agency RIA reported.

In March Poland said it had broken up a Russian espionage network operating in the country and detained nine people it said were preparing acts of sabotage and monitoring rail routes to Ukraine.

In April it said it was introducing a temporary 200 metre exclusion zone around its Swinoujscie Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, citing concerns about Russian espionage.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw and Felix Light in Tblisi; Editing by Peter Graff)

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