Edward Lucas: Prosecuting spies “has a good deterrence effect”

Edward Lucas
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

The British writer and journalist called Lithuanian prosecutors’ announcement of the recent detention of a suspected Russian spy “a pleasant surprise” which “shows that Lithuanian counter-intelligence is doing its job”.

Earlier in the day, Lithuania’s Prosecutor General‘s Office said the detained Russian citizen worked for Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB.

According to Lucas, the FSB agent’s activities show that Moscow sees Lithuania as its “near abroad”. Russia’s other intelligence service, the foreign intelligence service SVR, usually operates in countries farther away from its borders.

“It’s interesting they named both the country and the service (…). Lithuania is being quite blunt about this and I think it’s good. It’s interesting they haven’t tried to swap this person because in previous years we saw arrests being used to trade and it never gets into the public domain. I think it has a good deterrence effect that spying is not without consequences. Ten years ago you could spy for Russia anywhere in the world and the worst thing to happen – if you got caught, you got sent home. And now you spend quite a long time in prison,” Lucas, the author of Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today, told BNS.

“I think it’s a sign of realism. What often happens in Western countries is that the spy catchers catch spies and the politicians decide there is no point in making things worse by talking about it publicly. In Lithuania’s eyes, Russia is a hostile power and there is nothing to be gained by this sort of diplomatic niceties,” he added.

According to Lithuanian prosecutors, the detained individual, born in 1977, “carried out an intelligence operation against Lithuania, aimed at penetrating Lithuania’s governing institutions, Lithuanian law-enforcement and intelligence services”.

According to the State Security Department, the detention prevented “access to the information known to top leaders of Lithuania only with the aim of manipulating and influencing decision-making processes in Lithuania at the top level”.

This is the fourth spying case disclosed by Lithuanian law enforcement and intelligence within less than a year.

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