Two Russian spies arrested in Ljubljana

The headquarters of the Slovenian intelligence and security agency SOVA.
Indictment filed against two Russian spies identified by intel agency SOVA (pictured). Photo:/STA

The Slovenian intelligence and security agency SOVA has apprehended and detained two foreign citizens who are accused of spying for Russia. They worked undercover, posing as South American businessmen, media reports say.

The Ljubljana District Prosecution has confirmed for the newspaper Delo that it asked the Ljubljana District Court in early December 2022 to open an investigation against two persons for espionage.

The prosecution acted based on SOVA’s initiative. Also involved in the arrest and prosecution of the two suspects was the National Bureau of Investigation.

The accused, who were apprehended on 5 December 2022, were remanded in custody, the prosecutor’s office told the news portal Siol, but would not disclose anything else due to the nature of the investigation.

The investigation against the pair is ongoing on suspicion of espionage for a foreign intelligence agency and certifying false content in official documents.

Unofficially, the pair worked for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

If found guilty on both charges, the suspects face up to eight years in prison in total.

The police told the STA the suspects are members of a foreign intelligence service who resided and did business in Slovenia under false identity and fake foreign ID documents while being involved in covert intelligence activity for the benefit of a foreign intelligence service.

Confirming what it had told Delo and Siol for the STA, the Ljubljana District Prosecution said that this was the first time they handled suspects for the crime of espionage.

Like the prosecution, SOVA said it could not comment on what it said were secret data. Under the national security strategy SOVA keeps officials in charge posted on intelligence activities by foreign subjects, and cooperates closely with Slovenian security bodies and EU and NATO services, the agency said.

According to media reports, the pair are a couple with two underage children. They identified themselves as Maria Rosa Mayer Munos and Ludwig Gisch and had both Argentinian citizenship.

Siol cited unofficial sources in reporting that the pair had been conducting their spying activity from Ljubljana not only in Slovenia but also abroad. They were discovered in cooperation with foreign intelligence services.

The alleged spies were based in a rented office in the Lesnina office building on Parmova Street in Ljubljana, Delo reported. The company they used as a front for their operation in Slovenia was allegedly dealing in real estate and antiques.