Ex-Russian spy can sue British government for revealing his identity, court rules
A FORMER SOVIET KGB officer, who now lives in the United Kingdom under witness protection, can sue the British state for revealing his identity to Latvian authorities, which may have put his life in danger, a judge has ruled. Boris Karpichkov, 64, joined the Soviet KGB in 1984, but became a defector-in-place for Latvian intelligence in 1991, when the Soviet Union disintegrated.
He then allegedly spied on Latvia for one of the KGB’s successor agencies, the Federal Security Service, before switching sides again and spying on Russia for the Latvians. He also claims to have spied on Russia for French and American intelligence. In 1998, carrying two suitcases filled with top-secret Russian government documents, and using forged passports, he arrived with his family in Britain, where he has lived ever since. Shortly after he was granted asylum, the British government issued Karpichkov with a new identity to protect him from the Russian security services. In 2018, Karpichkov claimed that, despite the British government’s efforts to protect him, Russian intelligence had tried to kill him three times since 2006.
Since Karpichkov’s relocation to the United Kingdom, Latvian authorities have twice attempted to have him extradited there. A High Court judge rejected the first extradition request, ruling that Karpichkov’s life would be in danger if he were to be handed over to Latvia. But in 2018 the Latvian authorities issued a follow-up request for Karpichkov’s extradition. At that time the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which manages the UK Protected Persons Service, shared information about Karpichkov’s protected identity with the Latvians. A judge later quashed that extradition request too, warning that the former KGB intelligence officer had “an abundance of dangerous enemies in both Latvia and Russia”.
Karpichkov claims that the information that the NCA shared with the Latvians during the extradition negotiations, resulted in him receiving death threats from his enemies abroad. The NCA claims it was under a European Arrest Warrant legislation mandate to disclose Karpichkov’s protected identity to the Latvian authorities. On Friday, however, a High Court judge ruled that Karpichkov had the right to sue the NCA for unlawfully disclosing Karpichkov’s details in violation of data protection rules. This means Karpichkov is now entitled to file a lawsuit against the British government for allegedly misusing his private information.