The Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW) has arrested an alleged Russian spy near the border with Ukraine. The suspect is Pablo Gonzalez, a Spanish journalist born in Russia, who purportedly worked for the Russian intelligence agency GRU, the ABW said on Friday.
Polish authorities say he was detained during the night of February 27-28 in Przemysl, near the Polish-Ukrainian border.
He has been since under arrest "on suspicion" of "participating in foreign intelligence activities against Poland."
Gonzalez has been covering the conflict in Ukraine and the arrival of refugees to Poland as a freelancer for the Spanish online newspaper Publico and for La Sexta TV.
He had been in the area for several days and he was captured after the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The organization Reporters Without Borders, which had denounced the arrest near the border with Ukraine, reported that he was held for at least more "than 72 hours" without the Polish authorities allowing him to speak with his lawyer Gonzalo Boye and the consular services.
Reporteros Sin Fronteras solicita la inmediata puesta en libertad de Pablo González y pide explicaciones a las autoridades polacas sobre las circunstancias de este atropello a la libertad para informar de @PabVis https://t.co/oA46mlOWsZ— RSF España (@RSF_ES) February 28, 2022
Allegedly accredited as a journalist, Poland says he had found information that, "if used by the Russian secret service could have negative effects on the internal and external security, as well as the defence capability," of Poland, the ABW stated.
He is said to have planned to travel to Ukraine and continue working as a Russian agent there.
The statement released by ABW says that there is a lot of "evidence" against Gonzalez, who "has been temporarily arrested for three months."
“He carried out operations for the benefit of Russia, benefiting from his status as a journalist, which allowed him to travel freely around the world and Europe, including areas of military conflict and territories marked by political tensions,” the text reads.
The man is being prosecuted for actions on behalf of a foreign intelligence agency with the purpose of damaging Poland and could face up to 10 years in prison.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Thursday that the Spanish government has been informed of the arrest.
"We are going to offer him consular assistance, as we do with all Spaniards who are detained," the minister said.
According to the newspaper El Pais, the detainee's wife, Ohiana Goiriena, who lives in Gernika (Vizcaya), says that Pablo Gonzalez was born in Russia, and that is why he and his three children have gone "often" to the country. The woman says that she does not believe the espionage accusations.
El Pais says that Pablo Gonzalez was also held in Ukraine for a few hours about three weeks ago. According to Spanish media, at the same time people who identified themselves as members of the Spanish intelligence agency (CNI) contacted his family in Spain.