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Trial opens against German intelligence officer who passed secrets to CIA, Russia

The trial against a German intelligence officer accused of passing secret information to the CIA and Russian consulate has begun in Munich. The defendant faces life in prison if convicted.

Under high secrecy and security the trial against former Federal Intelligence Service (BND) agent Markus R. has begun in Munich.

The 32-year-old

faces corruption, breach of secrecy and treason charges for passing classified information

to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 2008 and 2014 in exchange for around 95,000 euros ($102,000).

"At the BND, I had the impression that no one trusted me with anything," he told the court, "but the CIA was different. You had the opportunity to prove yourself."

The case has caused tension between the United States and Germany following

revelations the NSA spied

on German leaders and collected bulk intelligence on German citizens.

He also allegedly offered the Russian consulate in Munich classified information in 2014 before being apprehended by German federal authorities.

Code name 'Uwe'

Using the code name "Uwe" the defendent allegedly handed over to the CIA lists of

German agents, the structure of intelligence operations, BND foreign operations and counter-espionage activities.

A CIA agent named "Alex" acted as a handler, while monthy payments were made through another middle-man named "Craig" in Salzburg and other cities in Austria.

Documents were also provided to the CIA through encrypted messaging and at one point the US spy agency gave R. a notebook computer with a special email program.

In the year before he was arrrested R. was handing over information on a weekly basis. The CIA allegedly gave him between 1,200 and 1,600 euros a month for handing over more than 200 documents total.

The defendant has admitted to the charges, which could land him in prison for life. Security around the trial is so tight that no one in the courtroom is allowed to have electronic devices like cell phones or laptops.

Considering the highly sensitive nature of the charges, the trial is expected to last for months, and will likely wrap up in March of next year.

cw,es/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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