Italy expels two Russian officials in spying case

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(ANSA) – ROME, MAR 31 – Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said
Wednesday that Italy has expelled two Russians after an Italian
Navy officer was caught while allegedly handing over classified
documents to a Russian military official.
    The foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Rome in
relation to the case earlier on Wednesday.
    “When the Russian ambassador to Italy was summoned to the
foreign ministry, we expressed the Italian government’s resolute
protest and gave notice of the immediate expulsion of the two
Russian officials involved in this extremely serious affair,” Di Maio said via Facebook.
    “I thank the intelligence service and all the State bodies that
work for the security of our country every day”.
    A Kremlin source cited by RIA Novosti said Moscow hopes
relations with Rome can be “preserved” despite the case.
    The Russian foreign ministry told ANSA that it was “saddened” by
the expulsions.
    “We are examining the circumstances of this decision,” the
ministry said.
    “We will make an announcement about our possible steps in
relation to this measure, which does not correspond to the level
of bilateral relations”.
    However, Interfax quoted Alexiei Cepa, the vice president of the
Duma’s international affairs committee, as saying Russia’s
response to the expulsions would be “symmetrical”. The serviceman, a frigate captain, and a Russian official
accredited to the Russian embassy were detained by the
Carabinieri police’s ROS unit late on Tuesday, sources said
The Navy officer is accused of serious crimes regarding
espionage and State security.
    In addition to the criminal investigation, military prosecutors
have also opened a probe into the case.
    NATO documents were allegedly among the files the Navy officer
handed over, the sources said.
    Britain was quick to express support for Italy.
    “The UK stands in solidarity with Italy and its actions today,
exposing and taking action against Russia’s malign and
destabilising activity that is designed to undermine our @NATO
ally,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said via Twitter. (ANSA).
   

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