Germany puts reserve officer on trial over spying for Russia

The 65-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison for allegedly spying for the Russian foreign intelligence service.

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr train for "Voluntary military service in homeland security" in Berlin, Germany, April 27, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr train in Berlin [File: Michele Tantussi/Reuters]

A reserve officer of the German Armed Forces has been put on trial for allegedly passing sensitive information to the Russian foreign intelligence service GRU between 2014 and 2020.

The 65-year-old is on trial at the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court, and if convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

According to the indictment, the man from Erkrath near Dusseldorf betrayed information on the inner workings of the Bundeswehr’s reserve system and on civilian-military cooperation in crisis situations.

The information is also said to concern the effects of the sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, a project that was halted following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

According to the indictment, the documents and information came partly from public sources but also from non-public sources.

As a motive, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office suspects “sympathy for the Russian Federation”. They have not been able to establish any monetary payments.

The defendant had attracted attention because he had been invited to official events by Russian authorities.

He had already made a partial confession during the preliminary proceedings, a court spokeswoman said.

In June, the Dutch intelligence service uncovered a Russian military agent attempting to use a false identity as an intern to infiltrate the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is investigating accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.

Source: News Agencies