South Korean Baek Won-soon ,53 arrested in Russia on charges of espionage

Baek Won-soon, a South Korean national arrested in Russia on charges of espionage, has raised concerns about the potential compromise of state secrets. According to law enforcement agencies, Baek posed as a writer and used a messenger app to receive classified information, which he allegedly intended to pass on to a foreign intelligence service. The specifics of the information received and the identity of the intended recipient remain undisclosed due to the classified nature of the case.

Baek’s arrest occurred in Vladivostok, and he has since been transferred to Moscow, where he is currently held in custody at the Lefortovo detention center. The Moscow Lefortovo Court has extended his detention until June 15. Baek’s wife was also initially detained but was later released without charges and has returned to South Korea.

Baek is being held at Moscow's Lefortovo prison
Baek is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison

Given the sensitive nature of espionage cases and the potential national security implications, the investigation into Baek’s activities is being treated with the highest level of confidentiality, with materials classified as “top secret.”

Baek Won-soon Arrest

The tension between Russia and South Korea has escalated in recent months, with South Korea accusing North Korea of supplying artillery and ballistic missiles to Russia to support President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. This accusation has further strained relations between the two countries.

In return, Russia has been sending North Korea food, raw materials and parts used in weapons manufacturing, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik told reporters last month. The food aid has helped North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stabilize prices for necessities, Shin said. He added that if the arms transfers expand, Russia could send more military technology to Kim, helping Pyongyang’s ability to threaten the region.

Amidst this backdrop, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry has been providing support to the detained South Korean citizen Baek Won-soon in Russia. While the ministry refrained from divulging specific details of the case due to the ongoing investigation, spokesman Lim Soo-suk emphasized the government’s expectation for the citizen’s swift return of Baek Won-soon to his family. Necessary communication with Russian authorities is underway to facilitate this outcome.

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