Serious espionage for Russia: Bundeswehr reserve officer faces ten years in prison

Heavy espionage for Russia
Bundeswehr reserve officer faces ten years in prison

For years, a reserve officer in the Bundeswehr is said to have spied for Russia. It is said to have been about weapon systems and German cyber capabilities. In addition to sympathy for Moscow, the federal prosecutor suspects another motive.

The accused wears a dark double-breasted suit with a handkerchief along with his carefully groomed mustache. In civilian life he is a sales manager for a US company. As a reserve officer in the Bundeswehr, the 65-year-old holds the rank of lieutenant colonel. And since 2014 he is said to have provided the Russian secret service GRU with information as a spy. That is why the 65-year-old now had to be in the dock for particularly heavy secret service agent work in the high-security wing of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court. He faces up to ten years in prison.

According to the federal prosecutor’s office, the man from Erkrath near Düsseldorf disclosed information about German reservists and civil-military cooperation in crisis situations. It was also about the effects of the sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 and the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which has since been stopped.

According to the indictment, the documents and information came partly from public sources, but also from non-public sources. The accused is said to have passed on passages from the German Defense Ministry’s white paper to the Russians before they were published. Sometimes it was about weapon systems, sometimes about the cyber capabilities of the Bundeswehr. In addition, the man is said to have given the Russians private contact details of high-ranking members of the Bundeswehr and from business. The busy Erkrather also sat on the foreign trade committee of the IHK Düsseldorf and in a foreign trade association.

The representative of the federal prosecutor emphasized that he was aware that the information was going to the GRU secret service. Although his contacts officially functioned as attachés at the Russian embassy, ​​they were actually employees of the secret service.

Accusation: Acted against German interests

The reserve officer passed on the information mainly by e-mail, but also in personal meetings. In doing so, he acted against the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA. The federal prosecutor suspects “sympathy for the Russian Federation” as the motive for the apparently unpaid part-time job, as stated in the 107-page indictment.

Possibly vanity also played a role: “The accused tried to make himself interesting,” said the representative of the federal prosecutor’s office when the indictment was read out. He was noticed because he had been invited to official events by Russian authorities such as the Moscow Security Conference. The Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) is said to have found out about him in 2018. His apartment was not searched until 2020.

The court has scheduled 20 days of hearings for the case until mid-December. The defense attorney for the lieutenant colonel announced that his client would respond to the allegations – but only at a later date. The trial will resume on September 1st. The 65-year-old had already made a partial confession during the investigation, said a court spokeswoman.

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