Poland charges ex-govt employee with spying for Russia

Nord Stream 2 faces opposition from many countries in eastern and central Europe, the United States and particularly Ukraine because it risks increasing Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas

Polish prosecutors said Thursday they have indicted a former employee of the EU member's economy ministry with spying for Russia's GRU intelligence agency, the latest case in a string of espionage allegations in the region.

Identified only as Marek W. for legal reasons, the suspect "was accused of taking part in activities of Russia's GRU military intelligence directed against Poland between 2014-16," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"As part of the spying activity, the accused transferred information obtained from employment in the economy ministry," it added, without going into detail.

According to local media, Marek W. is alleged to have transmitted information to Russia concerning the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project, which Poland staunchly opposes.

The Russia-Germany pipeline would run through the Baltic Sea and bypass current Russian gas transit countries Poland and Ukraine, thus undermining their energy security.

Prosecutors filed the indictment with the Warsaw district court and the suspect, who was detained by Poland's ABW counterintelligence service in March, faces up to ten years behind bars if found guilty of espionage.

The suspect's legal counsel was not immediately available for comment.

The case is the latest in a string of espionage allegations in Poland and the Baltic states involving Russia's GRU intelligence service amid tensions sparked by Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, a move that deeply rattled nearby NATO members.

Fellow NATO and EU member Estonia on Wednesday also arrested two ethnic Russian Estonian citizens -- including a military officer -- on suspicion of "treason" for allegedly furnishing the GRU with Estonian state secrets.