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Astoņu gadu laikā aizturēti 20 ārvalstu aģenti

Twenty spies detained in Latvia over eight years

Over the past eight years, the State Security Service (VDD) has publicly announced the detention of twenty persons for espionage or other activities threatening national security. It cannot be excluded that the number of detainees was higher because not all cases are reported to the public, Latvian Television reported on January 23.

Last year, on suspicion of espionage and other illegal activities on behalf of Russian special services, VDD detained the largest number of persons so far – 10 people in total. That's as many as over the previous seven years together.

“Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, VDD has been paying heightened attention to suspicious and potentially pro-kremlin activities. In response to the increase in various threats, the service is rolling out a much broader set of measures to identify persons supporting Russia. It has also increased its operational capabilities in recent years,“ the service said.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, the VDD detained one person each year on suspicion of espionage. Five persons were detained on suspicion of unlawful cooperation with Russian special services in 2021. in 2022, one person was detained on suspicion of espionage on behalf of the Belarusian Special Service.

Ten persons have so far been found guilty of espionage in Latvia.

In seven cases the court judgment has entered into force, while three persons have now appealed the judgment. The sentences vary, with the most serious so far being a 15-year prison sentence for Oļegs Buraks, a former official at the Ministry of Interior's Information Center, for long-running and systematic espionage for Russian special services.

Amendments to the Criminal Law increasing the possibilities of special services to target foreign agents came into force in 2016.

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