ROME (AP) – An Italian spy thriller made a decisive turn on Thursday, saying the captain of the Italian navy, who is accused of leaking classified documents to Russia, was desperate to pay extra for his mortgage and keep his four children.
The captain of the Italian navy frigate Walter Biot, who was recently appointed to a political position in the Ministry of Defense, was in the prison of Regina Coel in Rome. During an initial interrogation on Thursday, he exercised his right not to answer prosecutors’ questions or make a statement, according to an Italian news report.
Biot was arrested on espionage charges on Tuesday after he was allegedly caught handing over a typewriter for secret documents, including NATO operations, to a Russian embassy official for 5,000 euros ($ 5,900). He was followed by Italian intelligence for months.
A Roman judge on Thursday upheld his arrest and denied his house arrest, ANSA SA LaPresse news agency reported. His lawyer Roberto De Vita did not immediately respond to calls or emails.
The Foreign Ministry immediately ordered the expulsion of the Russian who had captured Biot, as well as another diplomat from the Russian embassy, which, according to Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo, was “an extremely serious hostile act.”
Biot’s wife, Claudia Carbonara, insisted that Biot would never betray Italy’s security. But he said he was desperate for money because his 3,000-euro salary at the Ministry of Defense simply did not cover the needs of a family of four or six.
In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Carbonara said that Biot did not dream of reducing his children’s sports activities, but could not make ends meet. Carbonara, a psychotherapist, said that if she told him what she was planning, she would convince him.
“Even if he did what he did, I am sure he would have thought about it, he would not have harmed the national interest. “He is not stupid,” he was quoted as saying.
Biot’s older son, meanwhile, told reporters that his father was just trying to support his family. In an audio recording posted on the La Repubblica newspaper, the 24-year-old son said he returned to the Pomezia family home on Tuesday evening to find Carabinieri officers there, only to learn that his father had been arrested on news reports of espionage.
The unnamed son said neither he nor his older sister had a full-time job, working only as a gardener or cleaning pools, leaving Biot to support them all. He expressed concern that if his father was to be discharged from the Navy, the family would face more devastating financial problems.
“If he did that, maybe there is a solution, he is suffering from mental instability,” he said.