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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Purported Spy Arrested in Britain

A former British soldier identified in media reports as a spy for Russia has been arrested under Britain's Official Secrets Act and charged with possessing explosives, police said Saturday.

Risk analyst Peter Stephen Hill, 23, a former Territorial Army trooper in the Royal Armored Corps, was taken into custody in Leeds on Wednesday. He was to appear in court Monday.

Police declined to confirm a report on the front page of The Sunday Telegraph that said Hill also was arrested on suspicion of spying for the Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR. The Yorkshire Post broke the story Saturday, saying Hill was suspected of attempting to pass sensitive military information to Russia. Neither newspaper cited a source for the allegations.

The Kremlin and Russian intelligence officials had no immediate comment about the reports Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph said Hill was arrested following a Metropolitan Police sting operation in which an undercover official posed as a "Kremlin agent." The suspect had been under surveillance for some time, the report said.

It also said, citing a document sent to British military bases last month, that 30 intelligence officers were believed to be working undercover in the Russian Embassy in London in an attempt to steal military and political secrets. "The activity by the Russian Intelligence Services -- External Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Military Intelligence Service (GRU) -- is as extensive now as at any time during the Cold War," the document is quoted as saying.

Jonathan Evans, head of Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, said last week that vital resources needed to tackle terrorism were being diverted to stop Russian agents from stealing sensitive information on civilian and military technology.

Police said Hill, of Skipton, a town in North Yorkshire, had been charged under section four of the Explosive Substances Act of 1883 for the possession of an unidentified explosive substance in Skipton. The substance was not believed to be related to his arrest under the Official Secrets Act and was found during a search of his home and business premises.

AP, MT