VILNIUS - Just weeks after the government deported a Russian diplomat for "illegal intelligence activities," the State Security Department announced it had detained a new spy, this time from neighboring Belarus. On Nov. 25, officials announced that they had detained a Belarusian spy, although refusing to reveal the person's identity, age and profession.
Immediately, the media jumped on espionage speculations.
According to initial reports by the Baltic News Service, the alleged spy may have had something to do with the NATO summit in Riga or the traffic situation at the Lithuanian-Latvian border, where trucks have been waiting to cross for days (see story Page 4).
Yet officials denied such hasty reports.
"I cannot comment on either of these reports. The Foreign Ministry is not involved," Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas told The Baltic Times a few hours after the BNS report appeared.
But on Nov. 26, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office issued a statement confirming that the Belarusian citizen was detained on suspicion of illegal activities, and denied that he was somehow related to the Riga NATO summit and current truck lines.
The prosecutor said it was not Lithuania, but Poland that had expressed major interest in the clandestine operation.
"Successful cooperation between Lithuania and Poland's special service agencies has enabled us to obtain information on illegal activities by the Belarusian citizen S.M. against the Republic of Poland," the statement read.
The alleged spy was detained upon Poland's request, the statement specified, adding that agents had been searching for the Belarusian for some time.
"Polish officials suspect that S.M. was collecting and transferring national data for a foreign country," the statement said.
Polish national prosecutor Janusz Kaczmarek said the alleged spy had been collecting information on Poland's special services.
"It was confidential information, and these activities continued for a few years," Kaczmarek said, adding that the spy would bribe people for the information.
Arvydas Pocius, head of Lithuania's State Security Department, said the department has not ruled out the possibility that the Belarusian was also interested in Lithuanian information. He added that the Belarusian had already provided evidence to Lithuanian officials. The alleged spy has been detained for one month.
Pocius said that Poland should ask for the man's extradition, although the final decision will be made by Lithuania's court.
At the beginning of October, Lithuania expelled the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Vilnius, reportedly because he was involved in "illegal intelligence activities."
A few weeks later, Russia's FSB security service said it had arrested an official in the Kaliningrad exclave 's wedged between Lithuania and Poland'saccused of spying for Lithuania.