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Chancellor: Moscow used spy in attempt to undermine democracy in Austria

by Chris York April 18, 2024 7:42 PM 1 min read
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer talks to media prior to the start of the second day of an EU Summit in the Europa building, the EU Council headquarters on April 18, 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Moscow attempted to undermine the democratic political process in Austria using a Russian spy and a political party he was associated with, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on April 18.

Nehammer said Austria's intelligence agencies had evidence of the operation, and the "very serious allegations" would be "vigorously investigated."

While Nehammer did not name the alleged spy or the party he was associated with, last month, former Austrian intelligence officer Egisto Ott was arrested on suspicions of espionage following a collaborative investigation published by The Insider and Der Spiegel.

The investigation alleged that Ott had used his position to unlawfully obtain official information, which he then passed to Jan Marsalek, currently a fugitive and the former COO of the German payment company Wirecard.

The information was then suspected of being shared with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

At the time, Nehammer said Russian spy networks "threaten our country by infiltrating or instrumentalizing political parties and networks."

Speaking on April 18, the chancellor said Russian attempts to undermine Austrian democracy "have no chance."

Austria will hold two elections this year – the European Parliament elections on June 9 and legislative elections by autumn.

Austria urges strengthened security in aftermath of spying scandal
The statement came after former Austrian intelligence officer Egisto Ott was arrested on suspicions of spying following a collaborative investigation published by The Insider and Der Spiegel in March 2024.
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