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Austrian Chancellor: Espionage Allegations Highlight Need to Counter Russian Intrusion

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Photo: Austrian Chancellor: Espionage Allegations Highlight Need to Counter Russian Intrusion. Source: facebook.com/dievolkspartei
Photo: Austrian Chancellor: Espionage Allegations Highlight Need to Counter Russian Intrusion. Source: facebook.com/dievolkspartei

Austria needs to strengthen its security to prevent Russian infiltration, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said the day after it became known that a former Austrian intelligence officer had been arrested on serious charges of spying for Russia, AP reports.

The charges against Egisto Ott, who worked for the now defunct intelligence agency and whose arrest was announced on Friday, are "serious" and prompted the chancellor to call a meeting of the Austrian National Security Council next week, the chancellor said. Ott denies any wrongdoing.

"On the one hand, these accusations must be dealt with by the judicial system. On the other hand, the security situation in the republic needs to be assessed and clarified," Nehammer said. 

On Monday, the Vienna Criminal Court approved a 14-day extension of Ott's detention on charges. The Vienna prosecutor's office refused to provide details on the espionage charges, but said they were related to "abuse of office" and were "harmful to Austria".

According to the Austrian daily Der Standard, Ott is suspected of passing potentially confidential data from the mobile phones of three former high-ranking officials of the Austrian Interior Ministry to the Russian authorities back in 2022.

The mobile phones were supposed to be repaired by IT specialists of the former Austrian domestic intelligence service after they fell into the water during a boat trip on the Danube River in 2017. Instead, the data fell into the hands of Ott, who allegedly helped pass it on to Russian security services.

Der Standard also reported that Ott was arrested on Friday after the UK authorities passed information about his case to their Austrian counterparts.

  

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