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27 May, 2024 17:16

German military officer convicted of spying for Russia

The soldier said he feared the Ukrainian conflict could escalate into a nuclear war and wanted to help Moscow
German military officer convicted of spying for Russia

A Dusseldorf court on Monday convicted a German army captain of spying for Russia and passing along sensitive documents. The military officer was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to acting as a secret agent and divulging “official secrets.”

The 54-year-old defendant, identified only as Thomas H., had contacted the Russian consulate in Bonn in May 2023, reportedly driven by the fear that the conflict between Moscow and Kiev could escalate into a global nuclear war. At the time, the then-captain was working for the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support.

The defendant ultimately supplied the consulate with certain internal documents to get passed on to Russian intelligence and offered further cooperation and materials from the military, but ended up being arrested in last August. According to prosecutors, the officer had “almost persistently offered himself to Russia” to give it an advantage in the ongoing hostilities.

In addition to nuclear-war fears, the ex-officer blamed his transgressions on severe burnout, on overworking, and on the side effects of a Covid-19 vaccination.

“It is the biggest mess I have ever made in my life,” he told the court in his final statement. Earlier, he had pleaded guilty to acting as a secret service agent.

The court acknowledged that Thomas H. had no previous convictions, admitted to most of the charges against him, and actively cooperated with the investigators. The judiciary also noted the fact that he was experiencing severe health problems at the time he decided to spy for Moscow.

The defendant was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for surrendering “official secrets” to Russia. The arguably mild sentence indicates that the documents he managed to pass along to Russia were not that sensitive and did not contain state secrets. If the latter were the case, the defendant would have faced a much more severe punishment, up to a life sentence.

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