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Austria arrests Russian citizen on suspicion of espionage

Austrian authorities have detained a Russian man on suspicion of espionage, an official said Thursday.

Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for the Vienna public prosecutor's office, said authorities detained the man on an arrest warrant issued by German authorities.

He declined to provide more details, saying only that the man is suspected of receiving sensitive information from a member of Austria's army, who has also been detained.

A decision is expected later Thursday on whether the man will be kept in detention in Austria while awaiting a decision on his extradition to Germany, Jarosch said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Rudolf Gollia confirmed the two detentions, saying both took place Monday evening. The Russian man was detained at Salzburg's main train station and the Austrian citizen in Gmunden, a town about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east, he said.

Gollia said the Russian man was arrested on the basis of a European Union arrest warrant issued by authorities in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was working with the U.N. to determine whether the man had diplomatic immunity at the time of his detention.

A spokesman for Russia's space agency Roskosmos, Igor Panarin, said the man referred to in media reports was a member of the official Russian delegation to the 50th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space at Vienna's U.N. complex. Panarin expressed surprise at the reports of his detention, and Roskosmos said it has not been officially informed.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov said Moscow was looking into the matter and would do its best to protect the Russian's rights and ensure his swift release.

The Interfax news agency reported that the Russian Embassy in Austria has lodged an official complaint with the country's foreign ministry in connection with the detention.

"We are taking all steps to resolve this situation and to bring him back to Russia," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said of the Russian national, who had been attending a session of a United Nations space committee.

"We have sent a note of protest to Austria's Foreign Ministry in connection with the detention of a member of the official Russian delegation taking part in a session by the U.N. space committee," a spokeswoman for the Russian Embassy in Vienna said.

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