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Greek Intelligence Service Says Found Deep Cover Russian Spy


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EYP Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection. (Christos Bonis/Eurokinissi)

Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection. (Christos Bonis/Eurokinissi)

ATHENS –Greece’s National Intelligence Service EYP said it had found a woman working under the cover of a knitting supply store is really a spy for Russia, in an unusual statement from an agency that operates clandestinely.

It identified her only as Maria T. and didn’t say for what country she was working, but later media reports gave her name as Maria Tsalla and that EYP believes her real name is Irina Alexandrovna Smireva.

EYP, which had come under fire for bugging the cell phones of 15,475 people in the interest of “national security” without naming them, said it wanted to reveal how foreign intelligence services infiltrate Greece.

The agency said she pretended to be Greek and worked as a photographer and owner of a craft and knitting supplies shop in Athens, with Greek citizenship and an identity card since 2018 and was working under “deep cover.”

EYP said she was trying to gain access to personal data of deceased Greek citizens, a practice that Russian intelligence uses to set up a spy network.

It said – without naming Russia directly – that the tactic is to train “Illegals” to spy and provide them with false documents including stillbirth or death certificates to hide who they are.

It wasn’t said what her mission was nor how it would be carried out from a craft and knitting store but EYP claimed a coup and said the case “is a telling example of the way of thinking and acting of the specific foreign Services.”

There was no indication whether she would be detained, prosecuted or what would be done as EYP said she was a spy and that with a Greek passport she could have freely traveled within the European Union.