Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Briton jailed for stealing secrets

LONDON, England -- A British security guard who tried to sell military secrets to the Russians to make some quick cash has been sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Rafael Bravo, 30, admitted stealing files about defence systems from British Aerospace, in Stanmore, west London.

He was caught when a man he believed was a Russian agent turned out to be working for British intelligence.

"Despite what you intended, there is no evidence that national or allied interests were in fact prejudiced by what you did," Judge Michael Hyam said at London's Old Bailey criminal court on Friday.

"But had you succeeded, there is no doubt whatever that the interests of this country and its allies would have been substantially prejudiced," he said.

He added: "Anyone who has put at risk his country's security must expect to receive long sentences. Such conduct must be deterred and must be punished."

Bravo had pleaded guilty to nine offences, including theft and other charges that fall under the Official Secrets Act governing national security.

He took the documents, marked British or NATO secrets, between June and July, 2001, when he patrolled on the night shift in what he considered a boring, dead-end job.

He said he had returned from holiday in the United States with financial problems "and post-holiday blues."

Expecting to be paid a few thousand pounds for the secrets, he said he looked up the Russian Embassy in the telephone directory and called, but there was only an answering machine.

"So I decided to post a document with a post-note saying if they were interested in more documents to contact me on my pager number," Bravo had told the court.

He believed Russia was a less dangerous country to sell to than China or Iraq. It is believed he did not act on political motives.

"I had no idea it was so serious," he said. "I just came up with this crazy get-rich quick scheme."

Bravo's arrest resulted from a combined operation between MI5 and Special Branch. The classified documents were recovered.

He was arrested following a meeting at the White House Hotel in central London with a British intelligence officer whom he presumed was a Russian agent.

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee said there was no evidence Bravo acted "other than alone and for financial gain."

Bravo said he had taken the documents whenever a cabinet containing secret documents was left open. Security systems at British Aerospace are reportedly under review.




Back to the top