ROME (Reuters) – Italian law enforcement have observed a stash of classified and extremely categorised military paperwork they feel an Italian navy captain gave to a Russian formal in return for dollars, a judicial supply claimed on Friday.

Standard see of the Russian Embassy soon after a Russian military formal, who is accredited with the embassy, and an Italian navy captain were arrested on suspicion of spying, in Rome, Italy, March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Walter Biot, 54, was arrested on Tuesday in a Rome carpark. A police supply said he experienced been noticed handing data to a Russian armed forces attache in trade for 5,000 euros ($5,900).

The judicial supply with access to the situation documents explained law enforcement experienced recovered a memory card made up of 181 shots categorised as confidential, nine labeled as highly confidential and 47 categorized as mystery paperwork from NATO.

Biot’s lawyer Roberto De Vita advised an Italian newspaper that his shopper experienced told him that he experienced handed more than information and facts to Russia for money, but denied getting leaked labeled files.

Biot appeared in courtroom for the initially time on Thursday but declined to communicate. “He questioned for time to gather his ideas,” De Vita instructed reporters.

Interviewed afterwards by Corriere della Sera newspaper, De Vita said that Biot had informed him he was not ideologically driven and experienced under no circumstances handed over “documents which could put Italy or other nations at risk”.

Italy, which has historically appreciated better relations with Moscow than numerous other Western states, has expelled two Russian diplomats in retaliation and denounced the alleged espionage as a “hostile act”.

The Russian foreign ministry was quoted as declaring on Wednesday that it regretted the expulsions, but that they did not threaten bilateral relations.

Financial Difficulties

Biot’s lawyer explained his customer had 4 small children, a single of whom was seriously ill and essential distinctive care.

“‘I have made a miscalculation, but I did it for my loved ones. I experienced a second of wonderful weak spot and fragility. I was concerned in a mechanism that was greater than me. I had a debt that I could not repay’,” De Vita quoted him as declaring.

De Vita did not instantly answer to a request by Reuters for even further remark.

Biot is becoming held in a Rome jail and has been denied household arrest. He faces a minimal 15 years in jail if discovered guilty of army espionage.

Biot’s wife, Claudia Carbonara, told Corriere della Sera that the family members was struggling to get by on his income of 3,000 euros a thirty day period, with expenses which include 1,200 euros a thirty day period on their mortgage loan.

“He is not silly or irresponsible. He was just desperate,” she was quoted as indicating. Contacted by Reuters, Carbonara declined to remark.

Biot has the rank of a frigate captain and had a desk task due to the fact 2010. He was now doing the job at the defense ministry office tasked with acquiring countrywide stability plan.

The Russian formal who was seized on Tuesday remaining Rome on Thursday together with an embassy colleague, a diplomatic source mentioned. Both adult men worked in the military services attache’s workplace at the Rome embassy.

The Italian media named them as Dmitry Ostroukhov and Alexei Nemudrov. Russian authorities have not introduced their names.

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Additional reporting by Andrew Osborn in Moscow Enhancing by Frances Kerry