Russian embassy in Italy. FILE

An Italian navy officer arrested after being caught in the act of handing over secret documents to a Russian military official, police say.

The officer was arrested by military police on doubt of serious crimes relating to spying and state security.

The Russian, who reportedly worked at the Russian embassy in Italy, is anticipated to be suspended.

Italy foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador Sergey Razov in Rome over the event.

The carabinieri del Ros special operations group descended on the men in Rome on Tuesday evening “during a clandestine meeting between the two, caught shortly after the transfer of a document by the Italian officer in exchange for a sum of money,” a police statement said.

The Italian is defined as being the captain of a frigate and the Russian officer’s diplomatic status is currently being assessed.

The Russian embassy validated the association of a military attaché official but said any further explanation was improper, adding that it believed the incident would not affect relations, Russia’s Ria news agency reported.

Italy’s Corriere website reports that documents confiscated in the naval officer’s flat imply he may have passed on Nato secrets, thereby placing other countries’ national security at risk.

He is facing life imprisonment in Rome.

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