German federal prosecutors said on Wednesday, August 9, that a German national working for the military had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia, amid warnings of increased espionage activity by Moscow.
The captured suspect marks only the latest in a rash of cases of alleged spying for Russia in recent months as Germany has stepped up its support of Ukraine to become Kyiv's second largest supplier of weapons to rebuff the Russian invasion.
"The accused is strongly suspected of working for a foreign intelligence service," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement, adding that the suspect had offered his services to "the Russian embassy in Berlin" among other Russian institutions.
The man, identified only as Thomas H. in line with German privacy rules, was remanded in custody on Wednesday following his arrest in the western city of Koblenz.
His apartment and workplace were searched, prosecutors said.
Thomas H. had worked for the army's Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support Department.
According to its website, the department develops, tests, and sources armaments used by the military, ranging from complex IT systems of tanks and planes to personal combat gear used by soldiers.
"In May 2023 he approached the Russian general consulate in Bonn and the Russian embassy in Berlin and offered his cooperation," prosecutors said.
"In the process, he passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for them to be passed on to a Russian intelligence service."
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- 'Clandestine and aggressive' -
The investigation against him was conducted in close coordination with military intelligence and the domestic security agency, the BfV.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann thanked those conducting the probe against the "German officer", saying "vigilance remains the order of the day".
The arrest came after the BfV in June warned against the risk of an "aggressive Russian espionage operation" as Moscow wages its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Western sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine's military defence meant the Kremlin had an "increased interest" in information gathering, the BfV said in its annual report.
"In future, a more clandestine and aggressive Russian espionage operation is to be expected as well as cyberspace activities originating from Russia," the BfV said.
Russian intelligence services were trying to "bring new employees to Germany", as well as pursuing or renewing activities with existing staff.
- Expulsions -
In mid-April, Berlin expelled a number of Russian diplomats over espionage concerns, prompting the tit-for-tat expulsion of 20 German diplomats from Moscow.
A month later, Russia put a limit of 350 on the number of German personnel allowed in Russia, in effect forcing hundreds of civil servants and local employees working for German institutions in Russia to leave the country.
Berlin swiftly retaliated, ordering four of Moscow's five consulates in Germany to close.
Last December, a member of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency was detained for allegedly passing information obtained in his work to Russian secret services, with a suspected accomplice detained the following month.
Authorities revealed little information about that case but media reports suggest he had access to sensitive information obtained through BND wiretaps worldwide.
In November 2022, a German man was handed a suspended sentence for passing information to Russian intelligence services while working as a reserve officer for the German army.
And the previous month, Germany's cybersecurity chief, Arne Schoenbohm, was sacked after a television satire show broadcast allegations that he had ties to Russian intelligence services.
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