Former Hong Kong diplomat jailed 12 years for spying

Dutch spy formerly based in city gets 12 years for passing details of military operations in Afghanistan and Libya to Russian intelligence

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 4:02am

A former Hong Kong-based diplomat has been jailed for 12 years for selling hundreds of sensitive military documents to Russia intelligence - including Nato's activities in Afghanistan and Libya.

Ex-Dutch foreign service employee Raymond Poeteray - who worked at the consulate in Hong Kong between 2004 and 2008 - "perturbed and undermined the interests of the Netherlands and its allies", the court in The Hague said in a statement yesterday.

The court rules as proven that he passed confidential documents to the Russian Federation for years at the request of the Russian intelligence service

"The court rules as proven that he passed confidential documents to the Russian Federation for years at the request of the Russian intelligence service (SVR)," the statement added. The 61-year-old spy "acted purely out of financial interest, to pay off his debts and allow him a certain lifestyle", the court said, adding that Poeteray earned €72,200 (HK$729,000) between January 2009 and August 2011.

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

Prosecutors - who described Poeteray as "the biggest Dutch spy in recent history" - had earlier told the court that investigations 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. The prosecution said 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.

The documents he passed to the Russian SVR - the successor to the KGB - mainly concerned political and military matters in the European Union and Nato.

These included the situation in Libya, the EU observer mission to Russia's neighbour Georgia and missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Poeteray was arrested at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport a year ago as he was about to board a plane to Bangkok.

At the time of his arrest, law enforcement officials found four USB sticks containing sensitive information in a spectacles case.

The spotlight fell on Poeteray after German police raided the home of a married Russian couple living in the central city of Marburg, who were allegedly the Dutch spy's handlers.

The pair, identified only by their codenames Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, are accused of having been planted in West Germany from 1988 by the KGB and later used by the SVR. They are currently on trial in Stuttgart.

German domestic intelligence services were tipped off about the couple after the FBI uncovered a Russian spy ring which included the highly publicised case of glamorous spy suspect Anna Chapman, who was deported from the United States in 2010.

Poeteray had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court granted one request by Poeteray - it ordered the return of five of his watches seized during the investigation, branded as an Omega, a Graham, a Breitling, a Bulgari and a Corum. All were fakes.