Moldova charges former army official allegedly spying for Russia

(Reuters) - Moldovan prosecutors said on Thursday they opened a criminal case against the former chief of general staff of Moldova's armed forces following a media report alleging he had spied for Russia.

The Insider, a Russian investigative outlet, in cooperation with Moldovan publication Malenkaya Strana reported last week that former army official Igor Gorgan passed sensitive information about both Moldova and neighbouring Ukraine to Russia's intelligence services. He served as the army's chief of staff from 2013-2016 and from 2019-2021.

In a statement, prosecutors said Gorgan was suspected of "alleged subversive actions for transferring to a foreign state and its representatives some data concerning Moldova's national defense system".

Following the publication, Gorgan was suspended from his current position as head of security at the Chisinau office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the office's press secretary said.

Gorgan has not commented on the media investigation or prosecutors' statement. He could not be reached for comment. There was no comment from Russia.

Gorgan, dismissed by pro-European President Maia Sandu as chief of staff in 2021, is a graduate of a Soviet-era military school. Sandu said he would be stripped of his rank of general as well as of his state honours.

Moldova's relations have deteriorated with the Kremlin during Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Its pro-Western government has staunchly condemned the invasion and accused Moscow of plotting to overthrow the Moldova government.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)