North Rhine-Westphalia: Reserve officer denies espionage for Russia

An officer in the Bundeswehr reserve is said to have provided the Russian secret service GRU with information for years.

North Rhine-Westphalia: Reserve officer denies espionage for Russia

An officer in the Bundeswehr reserve is said to have provided the Russian secret service GRU with information for years. But it wasn't espionage, says his lawyer.

Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) - A former reserve officer in the Bundeswehr has denied the allegation of serious espionage for Russia in court. Although he passed on information, it was "not nearly as valuable as stated," said the 65-year-old's defense attorney on Thursday in the high-security wing of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court for his client.

It was not about "secret service agent activity". The lawyer was convinced that the man would be acquitted. He was only pursuing "fair intentions". It was about "international understanding and international friendship". "From his point of view, he was on a peace mission."

According to the indictment, the man from Erkrath near Düsseldorf has been providing the Russian secret service GRU with information since 2014. The federal prosecutor accuses him of particularly serious secret service agent activity. He faces up to ten years in prison.

For example, he revealed information about German reservists and civil-military cooperation in crisis situations. It was also about the effects of the Russia sanctions imposed in 2014 and the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which has since been stopped.

The lawyer said of his client that he never intended to harm the Federal Republic or its allies. On the contrary, he was "a German soldier with body and soul", had worked openly, did not use any agent methods and pursued no financial or selfish interests.

He did not know that his material, which he gave to Russian military attachées, he admitted, was forwarded to a secret service. The 65-year-old said his wife was Russian and an opponent of Putin. Since the house search, she has been feeling bad, she is in therapy.

According to the indictment, some of the documents and information passed on came from public sources, but also from non-public sources. Sometimes it was about weapon systems, sometimes about the cyber capabilities of the Bundeswehr.

In addition, the man is said to have given the Russians private contact details of high-ranking members of the Bundeswehr and from business. The Erkrather also sat on the foreign trade committee of the IHK Düsseldorf and in a foreign trade association.

The federal prosecutor's office suspects "sympathy for the Russian Federation" as the motive. He was noticed because he had been invited to official events by Russian authorities such as the Moscow Security Conference. The Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) is said to have found out about him in 2018.

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