Moscow arrests man 'spying for Britain'

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The Independent Online
MOSCOW - Russia accused Britain yesterday of recruiting a top defence industry official as a spy, paying for secret information on new weapons and providing invisible ink and dead- letter drops, writes Andrew Higgins.

The allegations were made by the KGB's successor, the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service, exactly a week after Washington announced the arrest of a CIA officer, Aldrich Ames, on charges of spying for Russia. Moscow denied there was a link.

A statement said 'a top official in an organisation within Russia's military industrial complex' was arrested on 15 January and charged with high treason, punishable by death. The man had 'fully admitted' his guilt.

Russian television named the man only as Mikhailov, an official in an arms trading company. It is the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War that Moscow has specifically accused a Western nation of espionage.

Russia's arms trade was recently recentralised under a new agency headed by Marshal Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, who complained after his appointment that Britain had obtained Russia's latest battle tank, apparently illicitly.

Only two weeks ago, John Major and President Boris Yeltsin proclaimed in Moscow that Anglo-Russian ties were at their best since the Second World War.

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