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Germany: Ex-army reservist found guilty of spying for Russia

November 18, 2022

The 66-year-old German was found to have provided Russia with information on Germany's reserve forces and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. His defense argued that all the information he had provided was publicly available.

 The Russian flag lies over the Russian Embassy in Berlin
The Russian flag lies over the Russian Embassy in BerlinImage: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A German court sentenced on Friday a former military reserve officer to a suspended year and nine months in prison after he was found guilty of spying for Russia.

The Düsseldorf state court established that the defendant was in contact with high-ranking employees at the Russian Embassy in Berlin office since at least October 2014. His contacts are also believed to have worked for Russia's military intelligence service.

The defendant, a 66-year-old former lieutenant colonel in the German military reserves, was identified as Ralph G. His last name was withheld as per German privacy rules.

How did he spy for Russia?

The court said he provided Russia with information concerning Germany's military reserves.

He was also found to have handed over sensitive documents on US security and defense policies and that of its western allies, as well as the impact on Germany of the 2014 sanctions against Russia.

He is also believed to have provided Russia with a link to a working paper on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The unfinished project, constructed to deliver Russian gas to Europe, was suspended earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Security walks in front of the landfall facility of the Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in Lubmin, Germany, September 19, 2022.
The defendant is accused of passing on a link to a working paper on the now-suspended Nord Stream 2 pipelineImage: Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS

His defense argued that all the documents and information he provided was publicly available. The court said its verdict was impacted by the non-secret nature of the information passed on, as well as the duration of his actions, which lasted for over four years.

'Extremely Russia-friendly attitude'

Ralph G. was also a member of German business committees. He worked as a sales manager in the small town of Erkrah east of Düsseldorf, in addition to his military position.

The court believed his wish to pique the Russian military contacts' interest and solidify his "security expert" reputation were the main drivers for his actions, as well as an "extremely Russia-friendly attitude."

The judge said that his actions meant he accepted harming the interests of both Germany and the US.

Since Russia's war on Ukraine, Germany has exercised more scrutiny with handling cases of any officials or individuals with cozy relations with Russia

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rmt/fb (AP, dpa)