A Spanish journalist suspected of spying for Russia has been arrested at the Polish-Ukrainian border, according to Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW).
Named as Pablo Gonzalez by his lawyer, the freelance reporter worked for online media Publico and La Sexta television channel.
“ABW agents have detained a Spanish citizen of Russian origin … He has been identified as an agent for the GRU” Russian military intelligence agency, Poland’s ABW said on Friday.
It accused Gonzalez of “conducting his business for Russia while taking advantage of his journalist status”.
His lawyer Gonzalo Boye, known in Spain for representing Catalonia’s exiled former leader Carles Puigdemont, confirmed the charge on Thursday evening.
“Pablo Gonzalez is accused of an espionage offence … and is in temporary detention at the prison in Rzeszow” in southern Poland, he said on Twitter.
ABW said it arrested Gonzalez on the night of February 27-28 in the southern border city of Przemysl where he had been for a couple of days.
“He was preparing to travel to Ukraine,” the agency said.
Poland’s prosecutors said Gonzalez had been active in other countries and was carrying two passports and two Russian cards attributed to two different names.
If found guilty, he faces 10 years in prison.
Media watchdogs concerned
Before ABW’s announcement, media watchdogs expressed concern over the journalist’s situation.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Twitter on Thursday that Gonzalez was detained for more than 72 hours “without any credible explanation”.
“He has had no access to his lawyer which is a denial of his fundamental rights,” RSF said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Polish officials on Tuesday to “immediately release” Gonzalez.
The CPJ said he had also been detained by Ukrainian agents in Kyiv on February 6 and accused of reporting from military-controlled areas in the eastern Donbas region without proper accreditation. He was released without charge a few hours later.