The tortuous story of “NATO spy” Federico Carvalhão Gil turned another bend in the road on Thursday, with Lisbon’s criminal tribunal finding him guilty espionage, the violation of State secrets and active and passive corruption.
The career civil servant working for SIS (Portugal’s secret services) had manifestly declared his innocence since he was arrested in a café in Rome nearly two years ago.
Late last year, his lawyer José Preto told us he was pushing for a trial by jury, at the same time as trying to get his client’s situation “taken to Strasbourg” (click here).
But today, Gil received a seven year four month jail sentence, during a closed session to which no reporters were allowed.
Say reports, “the judgement went ahead behind closed doors due to the sensitive material related to State secrets”.
It is unclear whether Gil has already been taken to jail, whether he remains under house arrest or whether he will be lodging an appeal.
Said Jornal de Notícias : “aside from the NATO documents (he was charged with selling to the Russians), the tribunal ruled as proven that Carvalhão Gil tried to sell the personal details of a deputy director of SIS”.
All these claims have been consistently denounced as “ridiculous” by the former SIS agent’s lawyer who claims his client was made a scapegoat – though for what reason is unclear (click here).
Certainly his alleged Russian handler is nowhere to be seen. An Italian court refused to extradite Sergey Nicolaevich Pozdnyakov to Portugal on the evidence given by authorities and he is believed to have returned shortly afterwards to Russia.
Various witnesses were heard during the trial, says JN, among them Júlio Pereira, the former director of SIRP (the information service of the Portuguese Republic), Adélio Neiva da Cruz, the director of SIS and “various inspectors of the PJ judicial police national unit for the combat of terrorism”.
Talking to the Resident after media announcements about the verdict, José Preto confirmed that the next steps are both an appeal and “several complaints” to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
For now there is “no other remedy” to Carvalhão Gil’s continued ‘encarceration’ in his own home, he added.