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Macedonian Police Arrest 17 on Spying Charges

W460

Macedonian police said Monday they had arrested 17 people on suspicion of spying, among them employees of the country's intelligence service, defense and interior ministries.

Police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said an operation to investigate alleged espionage had been under way for two years and those arrested were suspected of espionage, blackmail and extortion.

Some of the arrested "cooperated with foreign intelligence services, revealing state secrets and classified information of various levels," Kotevski said, but he declined to name the foreign states in question.

Among those arrested were the chief of staff of Macedonia's parliamentary speaker, a former commander of a special police unit employees of Macedonia's intelligence service and defense and interior ministries.

The arrests were made overnight Sunday and Monday and police were looking for three more suspects, Kotevski said, adding that two more suspects were already serving jail time for other offences.

Police searched the homes of the suspects and "seized a large number of computers, laptops, mobile telephones, memory cards, various pieces of arms and a lot of documents," he added.

The 17 are expected to be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours.

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