Reuters International

ROME (Reuters) - A Portuguese and a Russian national were arrested in Rome at the weekend on suspicion of espionage, the European Union's judicial cooperation unit Eurojust said on Tuesday.

Portuguese media said the arrested Portuguese citizen worked for the national SIS intelligence service and was suspected of being a double agent who was passing sensitive information about NATO and the European Union to Russia.

There was no official confirmation of this from either Portugal or Italy, and the two suspects were not named.

Portugal's prosecutor-general confirmed that Lisbon had requested the twin arrests, saying in a statement that investigations suggested the Portuguese national had handed over information in exchange for money "to a foreign national supposedly linked to a foreign information service".

The Hague-based Eurojust said besides the two arrests and the seizure of evidence in Italy, house searches were carried out in Portugal as part of the operation.

"Espionage cases are relatively rare, and require unique solutions," Eurojust said.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie in Rome and Axel Bugge in Lisbon; editing by Crispian Balmer and John Stonestreet)

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