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Russia accuses Denmark of 'persecution' over woman arrested on spying charge

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Russia accuses Denmark of 'persecution' over woman arrested on spying charge
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attends a meeting of foreign ministers of Russia and Cuba in Moscow on June 12, 2024. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / POOL / AFP)

Moscow has demanded the immediate release of a Russian woman arrested in Denmark on suspicion of espionage, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday, accusing Copenhagen of "persecution".

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Danish intelligence said Tuesday a Russian citizen had been arrested on suspicion of "enabling a foreign intelligence service to operate in Denmark".

The Russian embassy in Copenhagen "demanded from the Danish authorities the immediate release of our fellow countrywoman", foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

She added that Copenhagen had provided "no evidence" of the woman's "unlawful activity" and said Russians and those with pro-Russia views are "subjected to reprisals" in Denmark.

The woman's arrest comes as Western countries have recently arrested numerous Russians on suspicion of espionage.

Russia has also carried out high-profile arrests of Westerners on charges including spying, at a time of international tensions over Moscow's Ukraine offensive.

Danish intelligence said Tuesday the suspect was expected to be released after questioning, but added that "the case is still under investigation".

It said the case concerned media reports about a Russian sovereign wealth fund.

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Danish public broadcaster DR and other European partner media recently published reports about the Russian fund Pravfond.

The fund, which was set up by Russian authorities, is suspected of funding disinformation projects, according to documents gathered by DR.

Zakharova said the fund and other pro-Russia groups abroad are operating "in conditions of unprecedented pressure and sometimes persecution from Western authorities, including Denmark".

Recently Poland, Romania and the UK announced arrests linked to espionage in favour of Moscow and expelled Russian diplomats.

Russia this month ordered the detention of a Frenchman accused of gathering Russian military information and breaching a "foreign agents" law.

Russia has arrested several Western citizens in recent years.

US journalist Evan Gershkovich was arrested on "espionage" charges in March year, becoming the first Western reporter to be held by Moscow on spy charges since the Soviet Union.

Former US marine Paul Whelan is serving a prison sentence in Russia after being convicted for spying in 2020.

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