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Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams and Bill Berkrot
ROME, March 9 (Reuters) – An Italian navy captain was found guilty on Thursday of selling secrets to Russia and sentenced by a military tribunal to 30 years in jail.
Walter Biot, 56, was arrested in 2021 as he was handing information to a Russian embassy employee in a Rome car park.
Italy subsequently expelled two Russian diplomats and accused Biot of selling documents, including classified NATO documents, for 5,000 euros ($5,280).
His lawyer has said Biot did not hand over any sensitive material and announced on Thursday he would appeal the verdict. The military prosecutor had sought a life term.
“Biot traded in secrets and was caught in the act,” the prosecutor said on Thursday. “He displayed a high degree of disloyalty and criminal ability, but also sorry greed.”
A court last year detailed some of the allegations against Biot when it rejected his request to be freed pending the trial.
It said he had given his Russian contact a memory card that contained 181 photographs of documents and images from his computer. It said 47 were marked as “NATO secret” and 57 “NATO confidential”.
Italian media said that among the documents were information about the war on Islamist militants in Libya and Syria.
Prosecutors have said Biot was caught on camera on three separate occasions in March 2021 taking photographs with his phone of images on the screen of his office computer.
At the time of his arrest, Biot had the rank of a frigate captain but was working at the defence ministry department tasked with developing national security policy and managing relations with Italy’s allies.
Biot’s lawyer has said his client was not ideologically driven and had never handed over documents that could “put Italy or other countries at risk”.
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