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  • Apr 24, 2014
  • Updated: 7:51pm
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Former Dutch diplomat based in Hong Kong faces 15 years' jail for spying

Dutchman once based in city to face verdict at The Hague over claims he passed more than 650 sensitive documents to Russian agents

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 April, 2013, 10:59am
 

A former Hong Kong-based diplomat accused of selling state secrets to Russia has been described as "the biggest Dutch spy in recent history'' by prosecutors in the The Hague.

Raymond Poeteray is facing a possible 15-year jail term after judges retired to consider their verdict following a two-day trial last week.

The case has links to the glamorous Russian sleeper agent Anna Chapman, who was deported from the US in 2010.

Former Dutch foreign service employee Poeteray worked at the consulate in Hong Kong between 2004 and 2008.

He faces charges of passing state secrets to the Russian secret service SVR - the successor to the KGB - as well as bribery, laundering more than HK$870,000 and possession of a firearm.

The 61-year-old was arrested in April last year.

Earlier this year, Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag - Poeteray's suspected handlers - who were said to have been in contact with Chapman, went on trial in Stuttgart, southern Germany.

Last week, prosecutors in The Hague gave a colourful taste of what they allege was Poeteray's espionage.

Their submission read: "It is a busy day in Sealife [an equivalent of Hong Kong's Ocean Park] in Scheveningen, the popular beach city near The Hague.

"Pit, the Russian code name for Andreas Anschlag, travelled almost half a day from Germany for a brief meeting with fellow spy, BR aka Raymond Poeteray.

"An important meeting. Anschlag will receive a memory stick containing numerous documents, describing sensitive EU and Nato issues, from Poeteray in exchange for cash. A lot of cash".

The court heard Poeteray, employed with the Dutch foreign affairs department until his arrest last year, passed more than 650 documents with sensitive information about the EU and Nato to the Anschlags, who were arrested in mid-2011.

Heidrig Anschlag, who worked under the code name Tina, was found to be in the process of transmitting sensitive information when German police stormed her home.

Despite the arrest of the Anschlags, Poeteray continued to print confidential documents at his workplace, scanning them and putting them on memory sticks, it is alleged.

In documents obtained during the investigation by German police, the Russians instructed the Anschlags on a very detailed level how to handle Poeteray.

All three are considered "agents of significant importance" to the Russians and their arrests are thought to be a blow to the Russian intelligence network.

Educating and incorporating agents such as the Anschlags and Poeteray was a long and costly process for the Russians.

Investigations into Poeteray were carried out in Hong Kong late last year, but it remains unclear what information he may have passed on to the SVR during his time in the city.

Dutch public prosecutors have evidence that shows Poeteray received cash payments into his bank accounts starting in 2004 up to 2011.

In 2007 the payments stopped briefly, coinciding with Poeteray making international headlines for abandoning his adopted South Korean daughter to the care of welfare workers in Hong Kong.

During last week's trial, as in the pre-trial hearings, Poeteray said nothing. He listened attentively and took notes.

The defence asked the court to dismiss the trial, based on the grounds of incompetence and carelessness by the public prosecutor.

But the court decided to continue the trial first and to rule on dismissal at a later stage.

Most of the rest of the defence argument took place behind closed doors. The court will rule in two weeks.

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