Poland arrests Spanish journalist suspected of spying for Russia

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WARSAW/NABARNIZ, Spain, March 4 (Reuters) - Poland has arrested a Spanish national on suspicion of conducting intelligence activities for Russia, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence if he is found guilty, the Internal Security Agency (ABW) said on Friday.

The man, identified as an agent of Russia's military intelligence agency (GRU), was detained in Przemysl - near Poland's border with Ukraine on Sunday night, ABW said in a statement. It said he was of Russian origin.

His Spanish lawyer named him as Pablo Gonzalez, a reporter for several Spanish media including online newspaper Publico and TV station La Sexta, and demanded his immediate release.

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Both outlets have recognised Gonzalez as having worked with them.

Gonzalez's wife Oihana Goiriena told Reuters she had not heard from her husband since he called to tell her of his arrest on Monday.

She said eight officials from Spain's CNI intelligence agency came to her house and explained that her husband had been detained on suspicion of working against Ukrainian interests and would be held in custody for up to three months.

Since the arrest he has not had any legal assistance or communication with the outside world, said Goiriena, who is doubtful she will be able to get a permit to visit her husband. She added she suspected he had been arrested for being an "inconvenient" journalist.

"I have to pretend in front of the children to make it easier for them," she said in the small town of Nabarniz in the Basque Region where she and Gonzalez live.

"They ask me constantly when he's coming and I don't know what to say...Maybe he's not coming back for 10 years."

His lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, told Reuters he had not yet been able to contact his client. He tweeted earlier that Gonzalez had been charged with espionage and was being held in Rzeszow prison.

Spain's Foreign Ministry said it had been informed by Polish authorities of the charges but could not provide any details. It said it would offer consular assistance.

ABW said the man carried out operations to benefit Russia, and travelled in Europe and elsewhere under cover of being a journalist.

"Before his detention, he was planning to go to Ukraine in order to continue his activity," it said.

(This story was refiled to fix spelling in fifth paragraph)

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Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Vincent West in Nabarniz; Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo, Christina Thykjaer and Nathan Allen in Madrid; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Raissa Kasolowsky and Toby Chopra

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