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German intel officer denies spying for Russia

April 17, 2024

The former intelligence agent claimed prosecutors had it backward — he was not spying for Moscow but recruiting a Russian source to help Berlin. Carsten L. had refrained from commenting on his case until now.

A gate at the headquarters of Germany's BND intelligence service in Berlin
Which way was the information flowing at teh German spy HQ? That is what defense and prosecutors argued over WednesdayImage: Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance

A former agent at Germany's BND intelligence service on Wednesday denied accusations that he had spied for Russia while working for Germany.

Carsten L.* and his co-defendant Arthur E. are suspected of having worked with a Russian businessman to "procure sensitive information" from the BND and passing it along to Moscow's FSB intelligence service.

Carsten L. said that rather than him spying on Moscow's behalf, he had, in fact, recruited Arthur E. to help glean Russian intelligence, citing the latter's high-profile contacts in Africa and Russia as ideal for a potential recruit.

Former intel officer Carsten L. claims Arthur E. told him of contacts in the "Russian security sector" during a joint visit to a Berlin brothel. Arthur E. promised that the contact had knowledge of Russian spying efforts at Western embassies in Moscow.

On Wednesday, Carsten L. said this type of intelligence was of particular interest to him as he was tasked with keeping tabs on irregularities at the Russian Embassy in Berlin.

Prosecutors: Carsten L. was a spy

Prosecutors bringing the case against Carsten L. say the opposite was the case, arguing that he used Arthur E. to help pass sensitive BND information to Moscow.

Prosecutors allege that Carsten L. made photos and screenshots of nine BND files, which he transferred to Arthur E., who then transported them to Moscow.

The FSB is said to have paid Carsten L. at least €450,000 ($478,750) for his services and Arthur E. was reportedly paid at least €400,000.

The court on Wednesday heard that the files in question contained detailed BND information on Yevgeny Prigozhin, the now-deceased former head of the Russian paramilitary Wagner group.

"The accused did not seek to nor did he betray the BND," said Carsten L.'s lawyer.

The lawyer also addressed the issue of a pile of cash that authorities found at his client's house during a search, saying the money had not come from Russia but rather was part of Carsten L. and his wife's retirement savings.

The trial has seen tight security and included many closed-door sessions due to the nature of the materials being discussed.

If found guilty of high treason, both Carsten L. and Arthur E. could face life in prison.

*Editor's note: DW follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and urges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases. 

Germany arrests alleged spy working for Russia

js/sms (AP, dpa)

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