After the recent revelation of Russian sleeper operatives in the United States and London, the winds of espionage continue to move eastward, as the Polish government has announced that they have discovered and sentenced a Russian spy.
The Warsaw Business Journal reported on December 23 that “Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) caught up with the man in February 2009.” That man was identified as 41-year old “Tadeusz J, a suspected operative of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).”
The GRU is the intelligence wing of the Russian military, and it was believed by Polish authorities at the time of Tadeusz J's arrest in 2009, that he was about to go active for the GRU after nearly a decade of hiding in an unsuspected nest in Poland.
Although the arrest occurred in February 2009, it “was kept secret for over a year because of the sensitive nature of the case,” reported the Telegraph
. Despite the secrecy of the case, Poland's ABW admitted the following in their 2009 Annual Report
In February 2009, ABW detained a Russian Federation citizen suspected of conducting activities on behalf of the Russian military intelligence, the GRU. The detainee resided in Poland for over ten years and acted to the detriment of the Republic of Poland. Late President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, granted awards to five ABW Counterintelligence officers for their contribution to a successful realization of the case.
The prosecutor’s office charged Tadeusz J with “participation in the activities of foreign intelligence against the Republic,” threatening up to 10 years in prison.
Judge Igor Tuleya instead issued a lighter sentence of three years in a Polish prison, a decision that the defendant’s lawyer has vowed to appeal after having denied the charges made against his client.
Tadeusz J immigrated to Poland from Russia a little over 10 years ago and married a Polish woman. During his stay in Poland, he kept a low profile, speaking fluent Polish and running his own small business selling hunting rifles.
Polish authorities claim that for over six years he had been working as an undercover operative for the GRU, gathering sensitive information on the Polish Land Forces (army) and relaying that information to his Russian handlers via the latest in cryptographic communications technology. According to the Telegraph, the “cutting edge” devices were disguised to appear as “mundane electronic equipment,” which Tadeusz J claimed he had bought at a market.
According the Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna
, he reportedly acquired information on the Polish army through gaining the confidence of Polish generals with whom he hunted. One individual close to the case explained that the generals “treated him like a trusted friend.”
Although it is not stated how he met the generals, it is logical to surmise that he met them in his hunting rifle shop, and from there worked to build a close relationship with them.
In regard to Tadeusz J, an ABW officer told the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna: “In the art of counterespionage it is better to discreetly monitor a known spy. However we could no longer tolerate his harmful actions.”
The specific nature of whatever information he may have acquired or relayed to Moscow was not revealed, likely to avoid divulging potential state secrets.
Though it is yet to be seen how this incident will affect Russia's relations with either Poland or the West, it further highlights Russia’s continued deception toward the West, and its view of NATO states such as Poland as more of an advisory than an ally.