Germany arrests intelligence service employee suspected of spying for Russia

Germany arrests intelligence service employee suspected of spying for Russia

By Sarah Marsh and Miranda Murray

BERLIN (Reuters) – German authorities said on Thursday they had arrested an employee of the foreign intelligence service (BND) on suspicion of sharing state secrets with Russia this year and thereby committing treason.

Police arrested the suspect, a German citizen identified as Carsten L., in Berlin on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said. It said police also searched his home and place of work, as well as those of another person.

“The accused is suspected of treason,” said the federal prosecutor. “In 2022, he shared information he received while working with a Russian intelligence agency. The content is considered a state secret.”

In a separate statement, the BND said the employee had been taken into custody and two of his offices had been searched.

German authorities have warned of a likely increase in Russian espionage amid the Kremlin’s standoff with the West over the invasion of Ukraine. According to the domestic secret service, the federal government expelled 40 Russian “spies” in April.

The Russian embassy in Berlin did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Immediately after the possibility of treason within its own ranks became known, the BND launched its own extensive internal investigation, BND boss Bruno Kahl said in a separate statement. When this suspicion was confirmed, the BND turned on the federal prosecutor’s office.

Discretion is key going forward, as any detail of the investigation made public could give the “adversary an advantage in their intent to harm Germany,” Kahl said.

“With Russia we are dealing with an actor whose ruthlessness and willingness to use violence must be reckoned with.”

The BND will therefore only announce further details on the case once the federal prosecutor’s office has completed its investigation, added Kahl.

The case came days after Austria announced it had identified a 39-year-old Greek national it suspects of spying for Russia.

Most recently, in 2014, a German secret service agent was arrested for high treason – at that time, however, for betraying secrets to the US secret service Central Intelligence Agency. The man identified as Markus R. was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2016. The episode cooled relations between close allies Berlin and Washington at the time.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Jon Boyle, Mark Heinrich and Barbara Lewis)

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