26 September 2023

GERMANY: Spying probe targets senior officers

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Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) is investigating allegations that two senior Public Servants working in the Ministry of Economy could have been spying for Russia.

The national newspaper, Die Zeit, which first revealed the case, said the officials being investigated had close involvement with energy supply issues and held key positions.

Neither the Ministry nor the BfV, which is the country’s domestic intelligence Agency, would comment on the reports.

The Ministry would only say that it was in continual dialogue with the BfV, and that the Ministry found itself “under particular focus” due to its work tackling the energy crisis.

Die Zeit said it was aware of the names and pay grades of the officials under suspicion, but it was not at liberty to publish them.

The employees have been described as holding a “pro-Russia stance” and are suspected of having sought to obstruct the policies of Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck over the past few months.

The newspaper said it was members of the Green party, to which Mr Habeck (pictured) belongs, who took the complaint to the BfV, possibly directed by Mr Habeck himself.

Mr Habeck was an opponent of the now defunct gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, long before it was abandoned by the German Government in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Die Zeit suggested that the officials, who would have worked on the pipeline project under Mr Habeck’s predecessor, Peter Altmaier, could have struggled to accept the German Government’s U-turn when the scheme was scrapped in February.

The newspaper said that according to its contacts, the suspects’ CVs were examined and found to have “biographical peculiarities”, including time spent studying in Russia and proof of “an emotional proximity to Russia”.

There is no indication as to what the specific allegation relates to, or whether the officials are accused of having taken money from Moscow or having acted out of a sense of conviction.

Berlin, 4 September 2022

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