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German Russia spy accessed highly sensitive data — reports

Rana Taha
August 11, 2023

The man was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of spying for Moscow. German media reports he worked in a department that procured highly modern systems for electronic warfare.

The Russian Embassy in Berlin on June 2, 2023.
The man is arrested on suspicion of spying for MoscowImage: Michael Kuenne/Zumapress/picture alliance

A German man arrested earlier this week for allegedly spying for Moscow had access to highly sensitive information, German media reported on Friday.

The man, named by prosecutors as Thomas H., worked at a procurement unit of the military, the German Spiegel Online magazine website and Zeit newspaper said.

Germany arrests alleged spy working for Russia

The department has several tasks, including the procurement of highly modern systems for electronic warfare.

The man, who was identified as Thomas H, had visited the embassy and consulate "on his own initiative" multiple times since May and offered his cooperation, prosecutors said in a statement. 

He is suspected of providing information on his work for a division of the German military, the Bundeswehr, to the diplomatic missions with the intention of having it passed on to a Russian secret service.

The man worked for the Bundeswehr's procurement agency, the Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support department. The agency is based in Koblenz, where the man was arrested. 

What sensitive information did the suspect have access to?

The modern systems in question include technology for the surveillance and disruption of opponents' radio systems and the shutting down of enemy radio or air shield systems. The department also handles modern weapons used by elite commandos.

Spiegel cited unnamed security sources as saying the suspect had "extensive access" to the German military's electronic capabilities. To gain such access, one has to pass stringent security checks.

Reported AfD ties

Besides his access to sensitive information, the suspect has also been reported to have ties to Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Both Die Zeit and Tagesspiegel reported that Thomas H. was close to the far-right party. CDU politician Roderich Kiesewetter argued that AfD members should not work for the security services, warning it "poses a threat to the state." 

Reports of Russian spies in Germany have grown since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russia has also expressed similar concerns.

In mid-April, Germany expelled a number of Russian diplomats over espionage concerns, after which Moscow ordered over 20 German diplomats to leave Russia.

A month later, Russia put a limit of 350 on the number of German personnel in the country, effectively expelling hundreds of members of staff of diplomatic missions and other institutions.

In response, Berlin ordered the closure of four of Russia's five consulates in Germany.

edited by Richard Connor (AFP material contributed to this report)

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