A former executive at Eurocopter, the European helicopter manufacturing company, went on trial in Germany for allegedly selling documents about the aircraft to Russian spies.
Were military secrets compromised?
Werner G. admits he took documents from his employer and passed them on to Russian intelligence. But the 44-year-old engineer claims none of the documents were classified.
"He knows he made a huge mistake," the defendant's lawyer said at the beginning of the trial in Munich on Monday, June 9.
Werner G. was an executive at Eurocopter, a division of the European aerospace group EADS. He allegedly met with a Russian intelligence agent several times between 2004 and 2006 in Germany, Austria and Croatia. In exchange for manuals, files and CD-ROMs, Werner G. was paid 13,000 euros ($20,500) by the SVR, the successor to the KGB.
Prosecutors said he used anonymous webmail accounts to arrange meetings to pass over the information.
All information unclassified
The defense lawyer said his client, who worked for Eurocopter until the late 1990s, only sold unclassified manuals of various civilian Eurocopter helicopters.
Federal Public Prosecutor Hans-Juergen Foerster said the boundaries between civilian and military spying were not always clear. Foerster said such technical documents could allow another manufacturer to save development costs and offer its own aircraft at cheaper prices.
"According to what we know currently, the company was not harmed in any way," an EADS spokesman said.
The defendant, who joined the Franco-German helicopter company in 1992, now runs his own engineering consultancy. He said he had been in debt and hoped the SVR man would help him gain business. He said he was shocked at his arrest in April 2007.
A verdict in the case is expected next week. Spying for a foreign secret service is punishable by up to five years in jail in Germany.