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Lithuania charges state employee with spying for Belarus

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Lithuanian prosecutors have charged an employee at the state air navigation company for spying for Belarus and possibly Russia over civilian and military air operations, officials said on Monday.

Lithuania houses jets of NATO’s Baltics air policing mission in Siauliai military airport and the charge comes amid heightened tensions with Russia amid the Ukraine crisis.

It is the first time Lithuania has charged someone with espionage since it joined the European Union in 2004.

The man, who was not identified, was one of two people arrested about a year ago following a three-year investigation by Lithuanian domestic intelligence service, prosecutor Darius Raulusaitis told a news conference in Vilnius.

“He is charged with spying against Lithuanian Republic on orders of intelligence services of Belarus Republic,” Raulusaitis said. “It’s likely that any information obtained by the Belarus secret service is shared with the Russian services.”

Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are three Baltic states that were part of the Soviet Union until shortly before the collapse of the Communist superpower in 1991. They say Russia has stepped up incursions into their airspace and territorial waters over the last year.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Tom Heneghan