Discovery of suspected Russian spy ‘alarming’: Berlin

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Berlin on Friday called “alarming” the discovery of a German intelligence official suspected of working for Russia, amid fears he had access to sensitive information from Western allies.

The man -- an employee of the BND foreign intelligence agency identified as Carsten L. -- was arrested on suspicion of treason for allegedly passing state secrets to Russia, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

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The case comes at a time of heightened concerns across Europe about Russian espionage plots, after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine plunged ties with the West into the deep freeze.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said the case was “particularly alarming,” while also praising counter-intelligence services.

“We have to protect our interests and our services do that very well, as we saw yesterday,” he told German broadcasters.

Authorities have released little information about the case so far, saying doing so could hand Russia an advantage.

But news portal FOCUS Online reported Carsten L. was a senior official in a top-secret technical reconnaissance unit of the BND.

Part of his work was analyzing information obtained through BND wiretaps worldwide, it said, citing Berlin security sources.

He also had access to information from wiretap operations by other Western security services, including in Britain and the United States, and there are concerns he could have passed this on to Russia, the report said.

Wolfgang Kubicki -- vice chairman of the FDP party, a member of the ruling coalition -- expressed concerns the scandal could affect ties between the BND and its counterparts overseas.

“If information could get to Russia from the BND, that will make cooperation with our partners even more difficult,” he told financial daily Handelsblatt.
Authorities launched an operation after the BND itself raised suspicions about the man.

The suspect allegedly passed the information to Russia this year. He has been remanded in custody after appearing before a judge.

Concerns about Russian spying have escalated in Germany since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Last month 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.

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German intelligence official held in Russia spying probe

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