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9 Aug, 2023 19:19

German military employee accused of spying for Moscow

The officer allegedly volunteered his services at the Russian embassy in Berlin
German military employee accused of spying for Moscow

Police in Germany have arrested a military officer suspected of passing classified information to Russian intelligence. The officer is the third German in less than a year to allegedly carry out espionage for the Kremlin.

The man, a military procurement specialist identified as Thomas H. was detained in the western city of Koblenz on Wednesday, the German federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

“The Federal Public Prosecutor today arrested a German officer who is strongly suspected of having worked for a foreign secret service,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Thank you to everyone who was involved. Vigilance remains the order of the day.”

According to the prosecutor’s statement, the man approached the Russian consulate in Bonn and the embassy in Berlin several times beginning in May, “offering his cooperation.” Prosecutors claimed that he handed over information from his workplace on one occasion, understanding that it would be passed on to Russian agents.

The prosecutor’s office did not elaborate on the nature of the information, or whether it had been received by any Russian security or intelligence agencies. 

German officials have repeatedly warned of heightened Russian espionage activity in the midst of the Ukraine conflict. Berlin expelled 40 Russian diplomats last April, accusing them of being spies. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the allegations unacceptable and responded by expelling 40 German diplomats from Russia.

The arrest of Thomas H comes just eight months after police arrested an employee of the country’s foreign intelligence service (BND) and charged him with treason for leaking state secrets to Moscow. The double agent was also accused of forwarding classified information to the CIA, and sentenced to eight years in prison. His alleged accomplice, a civilian, was arrested in January and accused of helping his colleague pass documents to the Kremlin.

Prior to these two cases, Germany's cybersecurity chief was fired in October over media reports linking him to members of Russian intelligence services, while in November, an army reserve officer was found guilty of leaking military personnel files and cybersecurity information to Moscow between 2014 to 2020.