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German court convicts man of spying on Bundestag for Russia

October 28, 2021

A court convicts a German man of passing the floor plans of properties used by the Bundestag to Russian intelligence.

The glass domed roof of the German parliament, known as the Bundestag, with the tricolor German flag
Jens F., a former employee of a security firm contracted by the Bundestag, was convicted Thursday of trying to pass electronic copies of the blue prints for all the buildings used by the Bundestag in Berlin to Russia's defense attache in 2017Image: Getty Images/A. Berry

A German man was convicted in Berlin Thursday of passing a CD ROM with 385 files of floor plans of properties used by the German parliament to the Russian embassy's defense attache in 2017.

The 56-year-old Jens F. was employed by a security firm contracted by Germany's lower legislative house, the Bundestag, at the time.

While the floor plans were not classified, they were also not intended for the public or foreign intelligence agencies.

The First Criminal Senate of the Court of Appeal, responsible for national security cases, handed Jens F. a two-year suspended sentence. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of two years and nine months.

He was also ordered to pay €15,000 ($17,400) to the state treasury within two months of the sentence becoming final.

What is Jens F. accused of?

It was alleged that Jens F. had stashed the disc with the blueprints for properties used by the Bundestag  into the mail with a note marking it of "special importance."

It was addressed to the Russian defense attache, with no return address.

Combating election interference | GMF compact

Jens F. was in a position to obtain the plans due to his employment at the time with a security company contracted to check electronic devices used in the buildings.

Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution intercepted the letter and copied the contents. It is unclear whether Jens F. had volunteered his services to Russia or been ordered to do so by a Russian intelligence handler.

At trial, he did not address the court.

Jens F.'s past in question

Previously, Jens F. had been an officer in a tank division of the East German army and had also worked informally for the Stasi, the feared state security service of then communist East Germany. Prosecutors argued that due to his past, he had intended to pass sensitive information to Russian intelligence.

The Russian defense attache in Germany at the time was believed to have been an agent of Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU.

Friedrich Humke, the defense attorney for Jens F., argued that his client should be acquitted as there was no proof that he had shared the floor plans with the Russians. He also argued that prosecutors had built their case on his client's East German past.

ar/rc (AFP)