Poland’s counterintelligence agency, the ABW, says it has detained a Polish official over suspicions that he collaborated with Russia over Polish attempts to block construction of Gazprom’s gas pipeline to Germany.
“Marek W maintained contact with agents from Russia’s special services and sent them information regarding investments important to Poland,” the ABW’s spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn told the Polish news agency PAP.
A court had approved his detention for up to three months, the Internal Security Agency spokesman said.
He said the official, who held a position responsible for Polish energy projects, faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of espionage.
The government spokesman added that Marek W, who reportedly worked at the energy ministry, had sent information to Russia concerning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which Poland opposes.
Separately, Poland and the three Baltic states also summoned Russia’s ambassadors to discuss the attempted murder of a former double agent, Sergei Skripal, in the UK this month.
The suspect “was an official involved in projects of key importance to the Polish energy sector”, Zaryn told Polskie Radio. “He had access to key information on energy projects that the Polish government is conducting … this was very damaging activity.”
Polish state news agency PAP said Marek W had been in contact with Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover at Russia’s embassy in Warsaw.
The suspected spy was also involved in bids for European Union funds as part of efforts to diversify Poland’s gas supplies and reduce the country’s dependence on Russia, TVP reported.
Poland has repeatedly detained and charged suspected Russian spies since the 2014 seizure of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Poland opposes the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, which would bypass Poland and deliver Russian gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
Poland has said the pipeline would strengthen Gazprom’s dominant position on the gas market in central and eastern Europe, limit competition and increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.
The Baltic states and Ukraine, which has repeatedly quarrelled with Russia over its role as a transit state for gas exports, also oppose the deal.
The US State Department also expressed concern that the pipeline would undermine the energy security of Europe but has yet to enforce sanctions on the project.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about the events and could not comment.
Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Picture credit: YouTube