Germany arrests a suspected Russian spy within its secret service

Germany arrests a suspected Russian spy within its secret service

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BERLIN – A member of Germany’s federal intelligence service has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia and charged with high treason, national prosecutors said on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors said in their statement that the suspect, identified as “Carsten L.” was accused under German data protection law of “passing on information that he had obtained in the course of his professional activity to a Russian secret service”.

On Thursday, a federal judge authorized the defendant’s detention. He was arrested last week, but German authorities have released few details. Federal intelligence chief Bruno Kahl said in a statement that releasing more information “would give an advantage to an adversary intent on harming Germany.”

The investigation follows a series of arrests across Europe accused of being Russian spies. Most cases involve individuals who, according to prosecutors, are embedded in an organization or community to enable long-term espionage or recruitment.

Last month, Norwegian authorities announced they had arrested a man posing as a Brazilian academic at a university, accused of gathering information for Russia. In June, an intern at the International Criminal Court, also with a Brazilian passport, was arrested in The Hague and charged with espionage for Russia. In late November, a Swedish raid caught a Russian couple accused of espionage. And earlier this week, Austrian investigators arrested a Greek living in Vienna on suspicion of spying for Russia.

However, the arrest in Germany could prove unusual in that the accused mole was found in the country’s own intelligence service, raising the risk that contacts and informants inside Russia were betrayed.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement they searched the suspect’s home and workplace.

BND President Kahl described Russia as an actor “whose unscrupulousness and willingness to use violence is to be expected”.

A number of other Russian spies who were not undercover officers but worked officially for intelligence agencies have been arrested and expelled in recent years, potentially making Russia more dependent on sleeper agents as the Kremlin’s war effort in Ukraine has stalled. Security analysts in Europe say the arrests have also prompted Moscow to push more aggressively for information from its remaining sources.

Germany’s last case of a double agent occurred in 2014, when an intelligence operative was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage, mainly for leaking information to the CIA, and for offering himself to Russian intelligence agencies.

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