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Germany has ‘hard evidence’ of Russian cyberattack on Parliament

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. (Arno Mikkor/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there is “hard evidence” of the involvement of “Russian forces” in a 2015 cyberattack on the German parliament in which documents from her own parliamentary office were reportedly stolen.

The German daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported last week that federal prosecutors in Germany had issued an arrest warrant for a suspected officer with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.

The alleged GRU officer, identified as Dmitriy Badin, is also being sought by U.S. authorities.

On May 8, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that correspondence from Merkel’s parliamentary office was among the documents targeted in the 2015 hack.

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Prosecutors have not confirmed the German media reports.

But when Merkel was asked by lawmakers on May 13 about the theft of data from her office, she said, “I get the impression that they picked up relatively indiscriminately what they could get.”

“I am very glad that the investigations have now led to the federal prosecutor putting a concrete person on the wanted list,” Merkel told lawmakers, without elaborating. “I take these things very seriously.”

“I can say honestly that this pains me,” she said. “On the one hand, I work every day for a better relationship with Russia. When you see on the other hand that there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are involved in acting this way, this is an area of tension.”

Russian officials deny any involvement in the 2015 cyberattack on the German parliament.

The Kremlin has also dismissed charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and alleged cyberattacks on other countries and institutions.

Merkel indicated that the German investigation had not changed her assessment of Russia’s tactics — a strategy of “hybrid warfare, which includes warfare in connection with cyber, disorientation, and factual distortion.”

She said there were important reasons to try to maintain good relations with Russia, “but this naturally doesn’t make it easier.”

She described the cyberattack as “outrageous,” and that Germany reserved “the right to take measures, including against Russia.”