MI5 arrests Royal Navy petty officer for trying to spy for Russia

Edward Devenney
An member of the British Royal Navy has been arrested in a counterintelligence sting operation, after trying to sell top-secret government documents to people he believed were Russian operatives. Petty Officer Edward Devenney, who has been in the Royal Navy for over a decade, was arrested earlier this week while meeting with two MI5 officers posing as Russian spies. Originally from Northern Ireland, Devenney, 29, appears to have been motivated by disgruntlement against the Navy, after his planned promotion to commissioned officer was halted due to financial austerity measures imposed on the military by the British government. According to the court indictment, Devenney contacted an unnamed “embassy of a foreign country” in London, offering to provide classified information in exchange for money. It is unknown at this point how exactly MI5, the British government’s foremost counterintelligence organization, became privy to the content of Devenney’s communication with officials at the unidentified embassy. What is known is that, after several messages were exchanged between the parties, Devenney arranged to meet two people he believed were Russian government employees. In reality, the two individuals were MI5 officers, who were able to film the clandestine meeting. Devenney was apparently arrested on the spot, having first announced that he wished to “hurt the Navy” because his promotion to a commissioned officer had been “binned” by the British government. He also shared with them classified information, which British government prosecutors say he collected meticulously between November 19, 2011, and March 7 of this year. The information consisted of cryptological material, including encryption codes for British naval communications, operational details about the now decommissioned submarine HMS Trafalgar, as well as “the comings and goings of two nuclear submarines”. He also asked to be financially compensated with an undisclosed amount of money. Devenney appeared in court on November 13 and admitted collecting classified information with the intention of damaging the national security of the UK. Government prosecutors told the court that, due to the nature of the information involved in this case, future court hearings may have to be held behind closed doors. Sentencing has been set for December 12.

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