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A man rides a bike in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. (file photo)

An employee of the Russian Consulate in Strasbourg is suspected of selling dozens of stolen bicycles, French media reports said on March 22.

According to the reports, a 40-year-old driver for the Russian diplomatic mission was detained for questioning on February 14 but released 24 hours later as police pursued the investigation.

When police wanted to question the suspect for a second time later in February, they were informed by the consulate that he had returned to Russia for "health reasons."

Police launched the probe after an expensive electric bicycle belonging to the former deputy mayor of Strasbourg, Alain Fontanel, was stolen on a street near Strasbourg's diplomatic quarter.

Fontanel turned to police after he saw his bike offered for sale on the Leboncoin website several days later.

Police contacted the seller who agreed to sell the bike at a site just next to the Russian consulate.

The man had a fake receipt of purchase with a Russian consulate stamp along with Fontanel's bike identified by its serial number later, and three other bikes.

Police found out later that some 300 ads for high-quality bikes had been posted on the Leboncoin site since January 2020, representing a potential value of up to 100,000 euros ($120,000).

The investigation continues as prosecutors weigh whether to proceed with a trial even if the suspect remains out of reach.

Based on reporting by AFP and France Bleu
Dejan Vuksic was appointed as the head of the National Security Agency in December. (file photo)

PODGORICA – Prosecutors in Montenegro say they have opened a preliminary investigation into the alleged disclosure of classified information by the head of the National Security Agency (ANB), Dejan Vuksic.

"The case is in the preliminary phase," a spokeswoman for the Higher State Prosecutor's Office (VDT) in Podgorica, Lepa Medenica, told RFE/RL on March 23.

The leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) and member of the parliament's Security and Defense Committee, Rasko Konjevic, claimed on March 19 that Vuksic violated the law on data secrecy and compromised classified information of a NATO ally by sharing secret data with committee members earlier that day.

According to the deputy prime minister in charge of security matters, Dritan Abazovic, Vuksic "made a mistake" by revealing secret information.

But Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic defended the head of the secret service on March 21, saying that during the Security and Defense Committee meeting he disclosed data from an internal ANB document -- not from a NATO member state.

Some reports said that the classified information dealt with CIA operatives.

Montenegro joined the Western alliance in 2017.

Vuksic was appointed to the helm of the secret service in mid-December by Krivokapic’s government in a move strongly opposed by the opposition, which argued that ANB officials should not be members of a political party or carry out political activities.

Vuksic topped the candidate list of the coalition For the Future of Kotor in local elections in August 2020.

The coalition was part of a broader coalition led by the Democratic Front (DF) in the parliamentary vote that was held on the same day and brought Krivokapic to power.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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