Special police units in Germany have arrested two suspected spies who are believed to have been active for 20 years. The married couple are said to have worked for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
Federal prosecutors say two people were arrested
Germany's federal prosecutor's office has revealed that special police units on Tuesday arrested two people on suspicion of operating as spies in Germany for an unspecified foreign intelligence service.
It has since been confirmed that the two people - a married couple - were working for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and had been active in Germany for more than 20 years.
Two weekly German news magazines, Spiegel and Focus, reported Saturday that the woman of the couple was arrested in Marburg, in the state of Hesse, while listening to coded news via a radio receiver. Her husband was arrested in the town of Balingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Anna Chapman was arrested in the US on charges of conspiracy in 2010
According to the reports, the two entered Germany via Mexico with false papers in 1990 and spent years sending coded messages to Russian Intelligence using a shortwave receiver.
If the date is correct, it would mean they began their activity in the last years of the Soviet-era KGB internal security agency.
The KGB was remodeled after the fall of the communist regime as the Federal Security Service (FSB). Unlike the FSB, the SVR deals in international - and often industrial - espionage.
The man in this case is a mechanical engineer who is said to have worked for a supplier of spare parts for cars and spied on the company.
The two were reportedly exposed last year when the American Federal Bureau of Investigation broke a network of SVR agents and arrested at least one other Russian spy, with whom the German pair had apparently had contact.
A 2010 federal intelligence report suggested Russia and China had the biggest active spy networks in Germany, though they focus on industrial, rather than state, espionage.
Russia's SVR runs an estimated 13,000 agents and is active in economic areas, science and technology, the report says.
The SVR is thought to focus on gathering information about propulsion systems, satellites, sensors and communication technology.
On Wednesday, the unnamed pair appeared at Germany's Federal Supreme Court and were remanded in custody.
They deny the charges.
Author: Zulfikar Abbany (dpa, AP)
Editor: Ben Knight