Poland detains Spanish reporter suspected of spying for Russia

A Spanish journalist suspected of spying for Russia was detained at the Polish-Ukrainian border, Poland's counter-intelligence agency said Friday.

Poland detains Spanish reporter suspected of spying for Russia
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) tweeted Thursday that the Spanish journalist was detained for more than 72 hours "without any credible explanation". Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Named as Pablo González by his lawyer, the freelance reporter worked for online media Publico and the La Sexta television channel.

“ABW agents have detained a Spanish citizen of Russian origin… He has been identified as an agent for the GRU” Russian military intelligence agency, Poland’s ABW agency said.

It accused González of “conducting his business for Russia while taking advantage of his journalist status”.

His lawyer Gonzalo Boye, known in Spain for representing Catalonia’s exiled former leader Carles Puigdemont, confirmed the charge late Thursday.

“Pablo Gonzalez is accused of an espionage offence… and is in temporary detention at the prison in Rzeszow” in southern Poland, he tweeted.

ABW said it detained Gonzalez on the night of February 27th to 28th in the southern border city of Przemysl where he had been for a couple of days.

“He was preparing to travel to Ukraine,” the agency said.

Before ABW’s announcement, media watchdogs expressed concern over the journalist’s situation.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) tweeted Thursday that Gonzalez was detained for more than 72 hours “without any credible explanation”.

“He has had no access to his lawyer which is a denial of his fundamental rights,” RSF added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Polish officials Tuesday to “immediately release” Gonzalez.

The CPJ said he had also been detained by Ukrainian agents in Kyiv on February 6th and accused of reporting from military-controlled areas in the eastern Donbas region without proper accreditation.

He was released without charge a few hours later.

Poland’s prosecutors said Gonzalez had been active in other countries and was carrying two passports and two Russian cards attributed to two different names.

If found guilty, he faces 10 years in prison.

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Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.