Poland’s justice authorities announced on Friday the arrest of a professional ice hockey player who has been accused of working as a spy for the Russian government.
The hockey player was described by prosecutors as a Russian national and a member of a first-division club in the country, although neither he nor his team were identified. He had been present in Poland since 2021, they said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded an explanation from Poland regarding the arrest of a Russian national, reported the state-owned agency RIA.
Prosecutors allege that the man was paid for espionage activities including the identification of critical infrastructure in Poland, and that he was the 14th member of the espionage network to be arrested. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The other suspected members of the network were described as “foreigners from behind the eastern border” who “conducted intelligence and propaganda activities against Poland and prepared acts of sabotage on behalf of the Russian intelligence.”
Poland had previously arrested two men in April, one a Russian national and the other a Belarusian national, who have been charged with spying for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, since at least 2017.
The arrest of the network in Poland follows the arrests of seven Russians in Norway in connection to incidents in which drones were flown over major energy installations, prompting concerns of cyberattacks against the nation’s infrastructure.
Several national intelligence agencies, including those of Finland and Switzerland, have warned that attempts to degrade Russia’s human intelligence networks are likely to drive an increase in cyberattacks.
Poland and Ukraine have both been targeted by the Prestige ransomware, which Microsoft has attributed to the Iridium hacking group associated with the GRU.
Poland’s cybersecurity officials said last December that these cyberattacks are Russia’s response to Warsaw’s support for Ukraine and an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country.