A security guard at the British embassy in Berlin has denied allegations of spying for the Russian state after appearing at a London court on Thursday.
David Ballantyne Smith, 57, of no fixed address appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Thursday where he was accused of nine offences breaching the Official Secrets Act between October 2020 and August 2021.
The court hearing comes in a week when western governments have stepped up their expulsions of Russian diplomats in further protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Smith, standing in the dock and dressed in jeans and a blue zipped jumper, pleaded not guilty to all nine allegations as they were read out to him.
Smith faces one allegation of attempting to communicate with General Major Sergey Chukhurov, the Russian military attaché based at the Russian Embassy in Berlin with information containing details about the identities, addresses and telephone numbers of a number of civil servants, contrary to the Official Secrets Act. The alleged offence took place between October 2020 and December 2020.
He has been charged with eight other offences. These include two allegations that on August 5 2021 and August 6 2021 he made video recordings of the CCTV system at the British embassy in Berlin, and collected information that was calculated to be or might be directly or be indirectly useful to an enemy, namely the Russian state.
Smith also faces allegations that he communicated information about the embassy building in Berlin to the Russian state and one claim that he made an unauthorised photocopy of documents on 5 August 2021 collecting information that might be useful to an enemy state.
Smith, who stood for the short court hearing, spoke only to enter his pleas and to give his name and date of birth. When asked his address, he told the court in a Scottish accent, “I do not have an address at the moment.”
Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring transferred the case to the Old Bailey for a further hearing on April 13 and remanded Smith in custody. Smith, a British national, was extradited to Britain this week from Germany where he was living.
This week Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Estonia announced they were expelling 80 Russian diplomats after Germany, Poland and Slovakia have also thrown out diplomats in recent days. More than 300 Russians have been ejected from European Union member states since the invasion of Ukraine.
The expulsions this week are the largest since 2018 when more than 100 Russian diplomats were ejected from the west following the 2018 attempted poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.