Bulgarian prosecutors announced that they had arrested six people, including high-ranking members of the military and intelligence communities, for spying for Russia.

The investigation into the spy ring was considered of “special significance” for the national security of not only Bulgaria, but the EU, NATO, and the United States, general prosecutor Ivan Geshev said in a press briefing.

“We do not hate any foreign country, but we need to and must defend Bulgaria… Bulgarian citizens can and should be proud of their security services,” Geshev added.

Prosecutors played wiretaps for the press in which the alleged leader of the spy ring discusses operations and payments with his agents. They also showed footage of one suspect allegedly photographing classified material on his computer screen.

Among those arrested was a former military attaché who handled classified material for the Bulgarian parliament and a former high-ranking military intelligence officer in the Bulgarian Defense Ministry who, prosecutors claim, was the head of the spy ring.

He and his wife, who has a joint Russian-Bulgarian nationality and was also charged, were allegedly trained by the Russian GRU military intelligence to recruit an “illegal network of agents” made up of people who had access to classified information about Bulgaria, NATO, and the European Union.

“We can conclude that the criminal group has posed a serious threat for the national security by collecting and handing to a foreign country information which constitutes state secrets of Bulgaria, NATO, and the European Union,” said Sitka Mileva, a spokeswoman at the state prosecutor’s office. 

The agent’s wife “played the role of intermediary between her husband and their contact at the [E]mbassy of the Russian Federation,” and passed classified information in return for cash to pay members of their network.