German man charged for spying at parliament for Russian intelligence

WION Web Team
Berlin, Germany Published: Feb 25, 2021, 04:35 PM(IST)

German parliament Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The man, identified as Jens F, worked for a company that was contracted by the Bundestag to carry out regular checks on electric equipment in parliament.

German prosecutors have charged a citizen with espionage, saying he passed on data from parliament to Russian secret services.

The man, identified as Jens F, worked for a company that was contracted by the Bundestag to carry out regular checks on electric equipment in parliament. He obtained PDF files with the floor plans of the Bundestag parliament building during the course of his work, the prosecutor's office said in a statement on Thursday.

No later than late July 2017 to early September 2017, he decided to pass on the floor plans to Russian intelligence. He sent a data storage device to an employee at the Russian embassy who mainly worked for Russian intelligence agency GRU, it said.

"Against this background, the defendant had access to PDF files with the floor plans of" parliamentary properties, said federal prosecutors.

"For that, he prepared a data carrier with the correspondending PDF files and sent it to an employee in the Russian embassy in Berlin, who mainly works for the Russian military secret service GRU," said prosecutors.

German intelligence services have repeatedly warned about spying attempts or cyberattacks launched by Russian hackers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel herself told parliament last May that she had concrete proof that Russia was targeting her in the attacks.

The German parliament fell victim in 2015 to a cyber assault, and local media have named the suspect in that attack as Dmitry Badin, who is also wanted by the FBI for other similar attempts.

The latest spy charges raised by prosecutors are likely to further inflame tensions between Berlin and Moscow.

Ties are already badly frayed over the poisoning and subsequent jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Moscow has firmly denied any accusations of cyberattacks, or involvement in the poisoning of Navalny using the deadly Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. 

But Germany has pointed to 'unequivocal' proof of the Novichok murder attempt.

Navalny had received treatment in Berlin but last month returned to Moscow where he was immediately imprisoned.

(with inputs from agencies)

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