David Ballantyne Smith, a former Royal Air Force security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin, was sentenced to 13 years and two months in prison for breaching the Official Secrets Act. Judge Mark Wall determined that Smith’s actions were intended to damage British interests.
Smith had pleaded guilty in November to eight counts of committing an act prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state. During a three-day hearing at the Old Bailey in London, Smith claimed he was motivated by spite due to the way he was treated by the embassy, but the judge rejected that evidence.
Justice Wall stated that Smith intended to assist Russia, which is regarded as unfriendly to Britain. His support for Russian-backed rebels in the Donbas was the direct cause of his offending. The judge also believed that Smith was paid by the Russians for the intelligence he handed over, although Smith denied it.
Smith was exposed in August 2021 by two British intelligence agents who posed as Russian spies. Smith admitted to wanting to give the embassy “a bit of a slap” due to its treatment of him and said he was lonely and depressed due to his wife living in Ukraine.
After Smith was sentenced, Commander Richard Smith, who leads the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said Smith had put those working at the embassy and the security of the UK at risk. The British taxpayer had to pay £820,000 to make changes to the embassy’s security.