Former spy 'tried to sell files from MI6'

Man accused of taking documents on intelligence collection techniques
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The Independent Online

A former MI6 spy appeared in court yesterday accused of stealing top secret documents and trying to sell them to a foreign intelligence service.

Daniel Houghton, 25, was arrested at a central London hotel on Monday after an undercover operation involving Scotland Yard detectives and security service agents. Yesterday he appeared in the dock clad in a police issue T-shirt and jeans, but spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address in east London during a 20-minute hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Prosecutor Piers Arnold outlined details of the case in which Mr Houghton is accused of stealing highly classified documents while working for mi6 between September 2007 and May last year, and a second charge of breaching the Official Secrets Act by disclosing their contents on Monday.

He is accused of stealing electronic files containing intelligence-collection techniques, and then trying to sell them after he left the service. Mr Houghton is believed to be a a single man with dual British and Dutch nationality. Members of his family were in court to support him during the brief hearing.

Yesterday the university student with whom he shared a £250,000 ex-council flat in a brown-brick block in Hoxton, east London, described her shock that the "quiet but friendly" young man had been arrested.

Kimberly Peterson said Mr Houghton had told her he was a graduate trainee at Lloyds Bank, adding: "I had no idea he had worked for MI6. We got on but we weren't close. He was quiet but friendly. There was nothing that would have raised any suspicion."

The American student added: "It's been an unbelievable few days. I arrived at the flat block on Monday night after meeting a friend and was greeted by a man who said: 'Are you Kimberly?' When we got inside he showed me his Metropolitan Police ID and said he was [a] counter-terrorism [officer]," said the 27-year-old. "There were five officers searching through our flat. They have taken our computers and memory sticks.

"My family in Seattle are terrified at the moment. They wanted me to jump straight on to the first flight back home. It feels like I am in my own episode of Law and Order."

Next-door neighbour Georgette Cabero, 41, said eight police officers in "smart Marks and Spencer suits" and gloves raided the flat at 7pm on Monday before taking pictures of a mauve Honda Civic.

Mr Houghton's solicitor, Wayne Cleaver, made no application for bail. District Judge Timothy Workman remanded Mr Houghton in custody and adjourned the case until 11 March at the same court.