A military tribunal on Thursday found an Italian navy captain guilty of selling secrets to Russia and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
In 2021, while passing information to a representative of the Russian embassy in Rome, Walter Biot, 56, was detained.
Later, Italy expelled two Russian ambassadors and charged Biot with selling documents—including top-secret NATO documents—for EUR 5,000.
Biot did not deliver any critical information, according to his attorney, who also declared on Thursday that Biot would be appealing the decision. Life in prison had been sought by the military prosecutor.
On Thursday, the prosecution said that Biot had been captured in the act of trading information. He shown a high level of disloyalty, criminal prowess, as well as avarice.
When a court denied Biot’s plea to be released pending the trial last year, it listed some of the accusations against him in detail.
It said he had sent his Russian acquaintance a memory card with 181 pictures of files and computer images. 47 were noted as “NATO secret,” and 57 as “NATO confidential,” according to the statement.
According to Italian media, the documents contained intelligence on the fight against Islamist militants in Libya and Syria.
According to the prosecution, Biot was seen snapping pictures of images on the screen of his office computer using his phone on three consecutive occasions in March 2021.
While Biot was employed by the defense ministry division responsible for formulating national security strategy and overseeing relationships with Italy’s allies, he had the rank of a frigate captain at the time of his arrest.
According to Biot’s attorney, his client had never turned over any documents that could “place Italy or other countries at risk” and was not ideologically motivated.