Austria is expelling a Russian diplomat for breaching the Vienna Convention governing diplomats’ privileges and immunities, according to an Austrian foreign ministry spokesman.
“His behaviour is not in accordance with the Vienna Convention,” the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, declining to elaborate.
According to the Austrian Kronen Zeitung newspaper, the diplomat’s covert activities came to light after an Austrian who works in a technology company confessed that he had carried out espionage for years on behalf of the Russian, who was his intelligence handler.
The Russian Embassy responded on Twitter by saying: “We are outraged by the unfounded decision of the Austrian authorities, which is damaging to constructive relations.”
Media reports said the diplomat had been given until September 1 to leave the country.
Vienna’s diplomatic move comes two months after a retired Austrian army colonel was sentenced to three years in prison for having spied for Russia in a separate case.
Unlike other Western countries, Austria has traditionally sought close relations with Russia, which supplies significant amounts of natural gas to Western Europe via a pipeline hub near Vienna.
A large number of Russian diplomats are stationed in the Austrian capital to represent their country at UN organisations and at the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.