Germany Arrests British Embassy Worker Suspected of Spying for Russia
BERLIN – An employee of the British Embassy in Germany has been arrested for slipping documents from his workplace to the Russian secret service, the German federal prosecutor said on Wednesday in the latest suspected espionage case involving Moscow agents.
The man, who is a 57-year-old British citizen identified only as David S. under German privacy laws, was arrested in Potsdam on Monday and his home and office searched, the prosecutor said in a press release. Authorities said they suspected he had been working as a spy since at least November and was suspected of handing over embassy documents to a member of the Russian intelligence agency in exchange for a sum. of undisclosed money.
The arrest is the latest in a series of detentions as German authorities act against Russian agents. The German domestic intelligence service is increasingly concerned that Moscow is stepping up its efforts to convince Western collaborators to obtain information on the country’s economic, political and strategic positions, as well as those of the European Union.
Much of the focus has been on the threat of cyber espionage after hackers linked to Russia were suspected of breaching the German government’s main data network and the country’s parliament. But German experts say Moscow is once again using old-fashioned human contact to gather intelligence.
Given its prominent role as Europe’s largest economy, Germany has become an attractive target for espionage by agents from Russia, as well as China, Turkey and Iran, according to the reports. authorities.
Thomas Haldenwang, who heads the German Home Intelligence Agency, told parliament last year that the level of espionage reached, if not exceeded, Cold War levels, when a divided Germany was at the front – guarding a geopolitical divide between the United States the democratic west and the communist east controlled by the Soviets.
Germany’s long-standing relationship with Russia has been shaped by deep cultural and economic ties stretching back centuries and devastating wartime battles that have left relations wavering from heightened cooperation to bitter recriminations. .
The poisoning of Aleksei A. Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin allowed to be airlifted to Berlin for treatment, to imprison him on his return to Russia for months over late reflected the complexity of the links.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attack on Navalny, calling it “attempted murder”. But she refused to take action to prevent the completion of a strategic gas pipeline connecting Russia directly to Germany in response. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
In a brochure published in 2016 and aimed at science students and researchers, the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned that anyone who speaks good Russian and pursues a career in diplomatic service, energy or finance could be potential targets for Russian agents. . It details some of the tactics they can use, including building a personal relationship before asking for information.
In June, German police arrested a 29-year-old Russian man working as a research assistant in the science department of a university in Germany. German authorities said the man slipped information from his workplace to a member of the Russian intelligence agency in exchange for money at least three times.
A German businessman was arrested in May in the city of Leipzig on suspicion of illegally exporting industrial machinery to a company in Russia, where they ended up in the hands of a defense company.
The two suspects remain in pre-trial detention pending the results of an investigation. A judge later ruled on Wednesday to keep David S. in custody as well. The Russian Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on the arrest.
Italy expelled two Russian diplomats on espionage charges in March, after investigators said they saw an Italian Navy official give the envoys classified documents in exchange for money. Police said they also recovered secret NATO documents allegedly handed over to the Russians in previous meetings with the Italian.
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