German intel employee accused of spying for Russia
German authorities have arrested an employee of the country’s foreign intelligence service (BND) on accusations that he was spying for Russia by leaking state secrets to Moscow.
The man, identified as a German national by the name of Carsten L., has been arrested on suspicion of committing treason, the federal prosecutors office in Berlin said on Thursday in a statement. Investigators searched his apartment, his workplace and those of another person. The BND conducted related searches at two of its offices.
Carsten L. appeared before a judge in the Federal Court of Justice on Thursday and was ordered to be jailed pending trial. According to the warrant for his arrest, he is employed by the BND and gave information obtained during the course of his duties this year to a Russian intelligence service. The information in question meets the definition of a state secret under German law, prosecutors said.
BND chief Bruno Kahl said details of the treason investigation won’t be made public because Russia could try to use such information to harm Germany.
The arrest of Carsten L. comes just three days after the Austrian Interior Ministry announced that it had identified a 39-year-old Greek citizen whom it suspected of spying for Russia. The man faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
The last time a German intelligence service employee was charged with treason was in 2014, when a man identified as Markus R. was accused of selling state secrets to the US CIA. Those secrets allegedly included personal details on more than 3,000 BND employees. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2016.
German officials have been on heightened alert for spying activity on behalf of Russia amid the Ukraine crisis, which has pitted NATO members against Moscow through international sanctions and military aid to Kiev. Berlin expelled 40 Russian diplomats in April, accusing them of being spies. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the allegations unacceptable and responded by expelling 40 German diplomats from Russia.