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German intelligence service employee accused of passing information to Russia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

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

An employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service has been arrested on suspicion of sharing state secrets that he obtained in the course of his professional activities with Russia, federal prosecutors said on December 22.

The arrest of the suspect, a German citizen identified as Carsten L., occurred in Berlin on December 21, and he has been ordered held in pretrial detention.

“The accused is suspected of state treason,” federal prosecutors said in a statement quoted by Reuters and German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

He shared the information, which is considered a state secret, with a Russian intelligence agency, the federal prosecutor said.
The statement said police also raided his apartment and workplace as well as those of another person.

German authorities have warned of likely heightened Russian spying in light of its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. It is unclear exactly what information Carsten L. passed on, but the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) said the incident took place this year.

The BND began an internal investigation into the matter as soon as it became aware of the possibility of treason within its own ranks, BND chief Bruno Kahl said in a separate statement quoted by Reuters.

The BND will not provide any further details on the case until federal prosecutors conclude their investigation, Kahl said.
The chief noted the need for “restraint and confidentiality” with respect to the case.

“With Russia, we are dealing with an actor whose unscrupulousness and willingness to use violence have to be reckoned with,” Kahl said. “Every detail of this process that is made public means an advantage for this opponent in its intention to harm Germany.”

The case came days after Austria said it had identified a 39-year-old Greek citizen suspected of spying for Russia. Austrian media said on December 19 that the suspect is the son of a Russian diplomat.

Austria’s Interior Ministry said the suspect gathered information in Austria related to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The ministry added that the suspect was apprehended in late March but released until trial.