Lithuania arrests its own citizens suspected of spying for Russia

Several Lithuanians have been arrested and charged with spying for Russia, the Baltic state's chief prosecutor said, drawing an angry reaction from Moscow.

One of the suspects is Algirdas Paleckis, a politician who is known for pro-Russian views and has questioned Lithuania's membership of NATO and the European Union, Prosecutor-General Evaldas Pasilis said on Dec. 19, 2018.

Pasilis did not specify how many people were arrested.


Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the arrests "another Russophobic move" and a "reversal of democratic rights and freedoms" in Lithuania. She did not explain the grounds for those statements.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Since 2014, when Russia increased concerns among neighbors about its intentions by seizing Crimea and backing separatists in a war in eastern Ukraine, Lithuanian courts have convicted five people of spying for Russia or Belarus.

One person charged with spying for Russia is currently on trial, while investigations against six other suspected Russian spies are under way.

In July 2017, a court in Vilnius sentenced a Russian security official, Nikolai Filipchenko, to 10 years in prison after finding him guilty of attempting to recruit local officials to bug the home of the country's president.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.