ATHENS – Greece’s National Intelligence Service, EYP, made an unusual statement regarding a woman who was found to be working as a spy for Russia under the cover of a knitting supply store. The agency typically operates clandestinely.
The woman was identified only as Maria T., and EYP did not reveal for which country she was working. However, later media reports named her as Maria Tsalla, and EYP believes her real name is Irina Alexandrovna Smireva.
EYP, which had faced criticism for bugging the cell phones of 15,475 people in the interest of “national security” without identifying them, said that it wanted to expose how foreign intelligence services infiltrate Greece.
The agency revealed that the woman had pretended to be Greek and worked as a photographer and owner of a craft and knitting supplies store in Athens. She had been in possession of Greek citizenship and an identity card since 2018 and had been working under “deep cover.”
EYP revealed that the woman was attempting to access the personal data of deceased Greek citizens, a tactic employed by Russian intelligence to establish a spy network.
According to EYP, the strategy involves training “Illegals” to spy and providing them with false documents, including stillbirth or death certificates, to conceal their identities.
While it remains unclear what her mission was or how it would be carried out from a craft and knitting store, EYP claimed that the case “is a telling example of the way of thinking and acting of specific foreign services” without directly naming Russia.
It is unknown whether she will be detained or prosecuted, as EYP has only stated that she is a spy and, with a Greek passport, could have traveled freely within the European Union.