The Brit spy suspect held in Potsdam has been described as a ‘bald, stocky man’ who holds ‘extreme’ right-wing views and drives around in a Ford Fiesta.
Neighbours went on to say that the suspect David Smith, a security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin, was a ‘friendly, smiley and polite guy.’
The 57-year-old was seized on Tuesday in a joint operation by British Counter Terror Command and German security operatives.
He is suspected of selling secret documents from the embassy to Russian spies for money and is thought to have come under suspicion from MI5.
Sources said the operation to arrest him was “intelligence-led” and took several weeks.
The man was arrested in the city of Potsdam, to the south-west of Berlin, and is being held under German law on suspicion of engaging in “intelligence agent activity.”
The Sun reports that he is thought to have held “extreme right-wing views” which could have left him open to blackmail by Russian agents.
Berlin is said to be a major UK hub for international espionage, with many agents working in the city.
Spy expert Dr Anthony Glees said: “A Russian spy in the UK’s German embassy in Berlin is second best only to having a Russian spy in the Foreign Office in London.
“It’s claimed he was a low-level ‘local hire’. But nothing is low level in our Berlin premises.”
Speaking after the arrest his neighbours told the German Bild newspaper that he was a bald, stocky man of about 5ft 7 who left home early and returned late each day.
He was also said to have driven a Ford Fiesta, which was also searched by investigating officers.
They claimed that he had lived with a woman in the apartment in Potsdam for some years, but she had not been seen recently.
Shocked neighbours also told of how he had moved into the smart apartment block four years ago.
One was reported to have said: “He was friendly, smiley and a polite guy.”
Another added: “He always greets his neighbours. He’s that type of person.”
The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office said the man is suspected of selling documents obtained during the course of his work to “a representative of a Russian intelligence service”.
He appeared before an investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe on Wednesday where he was ordered to remain under arrest pending further inquiries.
The German Foreign Ministry said it is taking the case “very seriously”.
Foreign minister Heiko Maas told reporters: “Spying on a close ally on German soil is absolutely unacceptable and we are in full solidarity with our British friends.
“We will be following the federal prosecutors’ further investigations very closely. And where that’s desired, necessary and possible, we will also support them.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the case represented a “serious breach” of UK national security.
“All measures must now be taken – urgently – to establish exactly what information has been passed to Russian intelligence and the impact this has on the UK, as well as that of our allies,” he said.
A UK Government spokesman said the suspect had been “contracted to work for the Government”, while German prosecutors said he had been working as a “local employee” at the embassy.