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By Nicole Winfield and Gordon Walker
ROME (AP) – An Italian Navy captain accused of passing classified documents to Russia says he didn’t have access to any information that would have compromised the security or strategic operations of Italy or NATO, his lawyer said Friday.
Attorney Roberto De Vita met with Capt. Walter Biot at Rome’s Regina Coeli prison, where the frigate captain and Defense Ministry policy officer is being held on espionage charges in an isolation cell, a normal procedure for new inmates during the pandemic to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.
Biot was arrested Tuesday after Italian special operations forces allegedly caught him handing over a flash drive with 181 documents stored on it to a Russian Embassy diplomat in exchange for 5,000 euros ($5,881).
Italy expelled the Russian and another embassy diplomat for what Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio called a “hostile act of extreme gravity.”
A judge in Rome on Thursday denied Biot’s request to be released from jail and put under house arrest, citing the gravity of the accusations and the concern that he might commit further crimes.