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Author`s name Alex Naumov

British spy arrested on plans to pass top secret information to Russia

A 23-year-old man arrested under Britain's secrecy laws was charged Saturday with possessing explosives, police said.

Peter Stephen Hill, a risk analyst from Skipton, near Leeds, northern England, was detained Wednesday under the provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1911 but charged under the Explosives Substances Act 1993.

Police refused to comment on a report in the local Yorkshire Post newspaper about a man his 20s who was arrested for allegedly planning to pass classified information to Russia.

The report came days after Jonathan Evans, the head of Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, warned of "unreconstructed attempts by Russia, China and others to spy on us" despite the end of the Cold War nearly 20 years ago.

Hill was charged Saturday and will make his first appearance before magistrates in Leeds on Monday, said London's Metropolitan police, which takes the lead on security matters nationwide.

The charge alleges that he illegally had sodium chlorate, sugar, hexamine tablets, matches, bearings, a metal hollow tube and acetone in his possession, the AFP reports.

Britain 's Press Association news agency said the allegations do not relate to any suspected "terrorist-related activity", without quoting sources.

Last week, head of MI5 security service Jonathan Evans had complained that Russian spying against Britain remained at Cold War levels, diverting intelligence resources that would be better devoted to fighting al Qaeda.

"Despite the Cold War ending nearly two decades ago, my service is still expending resources to defend the UK against unreconstructed attempts by Russia, China and others to spy on us," he said in his first public speech since taking over in April.

Evans said a number of countries were still actively seeking to steal sensitive civilian and military technology, political and economic intelligence, including via sophisticated electronic attacks on computer networks, Reuters reports.

One of the most recent cases of an arrest under the Official Secrets Act involved Ian Parr, a former employee at BAE Systems Avionics. He subsequently admitted the offences and was jailed for 10 years in April 2003.

Parr, from Rochford, Essex, tried to sell the Russian confidential details of seven defence projects, including a missile system then being deployed in Iraq. He met his “contact” in a pub but later found out he was in fact trying to betray his country to an undercover MI5 officer.

Sentencing Parr, Judge Michael Hyam said the sentence reflected the seriousness of the offences. “I cannot accept that you were so naive that you did not know what you were doing was a risk to the nation’s security,” he said.

UK-Russia relations have deteriorated in the last two years. There was particular anger that the Russian authorities refused to extradite suspects thought to be involved in the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer who died of radiation poisoning last November.

Last July the British government expelled four Russian diplomats from London in response to the lack of cooperation over the Litvinenko investigation. The Kremlin responded by expelling four British embassy staff, reports.

Source: agencies