An Irish sailor will be sentenced on Wednesday for attempting to sell British navy secrets to the Russians – via Twitter.
Strabane native Edward Devenney has pleaded guilty at London’s Old Bailey court to breaches of Britain’s Official Secrets act.
The 30-year-old has also admitted misconduct in a public office and faces a stiff sentence.
The Royal Navy petty officer attempted to disclose secret movements of British nuclear submarines to Russian spies after he was overlooked for promotion.
Based at the HMS Drake in Devonport naval base in Plymouth, Devenney collected secret code-breaking material to enable access to encryption programmes about submarine movements according to a report in the Irish Times.
The paper says he then contacted a foreign embassy to try to pass them on to Russian agents.
M15 agents operated a string against Devenney when they met him last January posing as Russian operatives.
The paper says the charges relate to ‘crypto material’ used to encrypt secret information and information linked to the operation of HMS Trafalgar and two nuclear submarines.
Devenney admitted collecting information for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state.
The report adds that some of the matters may not be disclosed in public or may have to be given in secret to protect national security.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate for the service to comment while legal proceedings are ongoing.”
An officer for 11 years, Devenney told the M15 agents he wanted to ‘hurt the Navy’ because his promotion had been ‘binned’ after defence cuts.
The paper says he was a prolific user of Twitter, tweeting up to 40 times a day. In January, he posted the message: “Bomb Iran? Am not bothered, but I’ll probably be in the submarine that fires the missiles.”
When the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited HMS Vigilant in Scotland, Devenney tweeted: “Cameron visited my submarine today but I wasn’t there. Wish I was to give him a piece of my mind.”
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