Germany spied on like in the Cold War – intelligence chief

The head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also warned of an increased risk of sabotage

Germany is at least as spied on as during the Cold War, said the head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency. He attributed the growing level of espionage to the deterioration of relations between the West and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

Thomas Haldenwang, the president of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), issued the warning Thursday at a conference in Berlin.

According to local media, the official said that “today we rate the level of espionage against Germany at least on par with that of the Cold War – if not significantly higher.

Haldenwang also spoke of an increased risk of sabotage in the country, as relations between Berlin and Moscow have deteriorated significantly since Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine.

The head of the BfV predicted that “in a world of open hostilities and drastic sanctions, the threshold for inhibition of espionage, sabotage and illegitimate influence will continue to drop.“According to the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, Haldenwang also claimed that there was a new”system contestemerging between democracies and authoritarian states.

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Dozens of Russian diplomats expelled

Russian intelligence services allegedly working in Germany use “various influencers, which besides intelligence agents also include think tanks or journalists,“said the official.

Echoing Haldenwang’s assessment, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also warned that the “threat to our security from the new war in Europe is real.“According to reports, she said that Germany could expect espionage and cyberattacks as well as”influence campaigns by foreign powers, which aim to destabilize our democracy through propaganda, lies and targeted disinformation.

In early April, Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats suspected of having links to the Russian spy agency. A number of other European countries have shown the door to Russian diplomats under similar pretexts since late February, when the Kremlin launched its military campaign against Ukraine.

Moscow has always denied that it used its embassies as a front for espionage activities and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions of Western diplomats.

Also in April, German media reported that a German army reserve officer had been charged with spying for Russia. The federal prosecutor’s office has accused a person named Ralph G. of passing information to Russian intelligence between 2014 and 2020.

The man allegedly provided his Russian handlers”personal data of high-ranking members of the Bundeswehras well as from the business world.

According to prosecutors, “in exchange for his services, the accused received invitations to events organized by Russian government agencies.

Another case of alleged Russian espionage in Germany made headlines in mid-February, with the federal prosecutor’s office bringing espionage charges against a suspect named Ilnur N. The Russian-born man worked at the park Augsburg Innovation Center in Bavaria, which is home to the German Aerospace Center and reportedly shared sensitive information with its Russian handler about new materials being developed for space travel.


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