German Intelligence Officer Accused of Treason, Leaking Classified Info to Russia

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In a development that has caused ripples in the intelligence community, a German intelligence officer, known only as Carsten L due to the nation’s strict privacy rules, has been accused of committing treason by allegedly sharing classified information with Russia. The high-ranking officer is suspected to have leaked details concerning the Ukrainian conflict and the activities of the Wagner mercenary group, with reports suggesting a staggering sum of €400,000 (£340,000) was paid to him in exchange.

Adding another layer to the investigation, another suspect, this time a purported courier, has been indicted for his involvement in the conspiracy. Both individuals could potentially face life imprisonment for their alleged offences.

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Prior to his apprehension, Carsten L held a position of significant responsibility within Germany’s foreign intelligence service (BND), a role that required him to supervise overseas telecommunication and internet surveillance operations. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, in tandem with broadcasters NDR and WDR, reveal that Carsten L had received a promotion only a few weeks preceding his arrest, making him responsible for background checks within the agency.

Justice authorities apprehended Carsten L in Berlin in the final month of the past year, while his assumed accomplice, identified as Arthur E, was arrested one month later upon returning to Germany from the United States.

Arthur E, a Russian-born German businessman, stands accused of carrying classified intelligence to Moscow and handing it over to Russia’s domestic spy agency, the FSB. German legal authorities have charged both men with “treason in a particularly serious case”. The Berlin courts now await the decision on whether to proceed with the case.

Reports describe Arthur E as a diamond trader who unravelled at length after his arrest, providing extensive information to the authorities. It is reported that the two suspects initially met at a private party hosted by a Bavarian football club in 2021 where Carsten L revealed details about his role within the BND.

The prosecutor’s office has refrained from commenting on the reports indicating that charges have been filed against both men. The BND’s head, Bruno Kahl, recently labelled the situation a ‘shock’ for his agency. While admitting that much of the leaked material had limited value, he reiterated that measures had been put in place to bolster the agency’s security and forestall any future leakages.

Recently, the rising prevalence of Russian espionage activities targeting Europe has elicited widespread concern, particularly in the aftermath of Ukraine’s invasion last February. Numerous countries including the UK, Poland, and Norway, have taken drastic measures to arrest or expel individuals suspected of spying for Russia.

Germany has been at the epicentre of this growing apprehension. In the past few months, a government staffer working in military equipment logistics was arrested under suspicion of espionage. More controversially, Germany’s cybersecurity chief, Arne Schönbohm, was relieved of his duties last October after allegations suggesting his association with individuals connected to Russian intelligence surfaced. Schönbohm has since demanded retribution from both the government and the public broadcaster responsible for making the initial allegations.