Man suspected of spying for Russia arrested in Germany

Thomas H was arrested in Koblenz and was remanded in custody

The Russian consulate building in Bonn. Getty Images
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A German citizen working for the country's army has been arrested on suspicion of passing secret information to Russian intelligence agencies, the German federal prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.

The man approached the Russian consulate general in Bonn and the country's embassy in Berlin several times and offered his co-operation, it said.

“The accused is strongly suspected of working for a foreign intelligence service,” the office said in a statement.

On one occasion, he passed a Russian intelligence service information obtained in the course of his profession, it added. The man was working for a division of the German Bundeswehr.

The man, identified only as Thomas H, was arrested in Koblenz by officials from the Federal Criminal Police Office. His home and workplace were searched.

He appeared before an investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice on Wednesday and was remanded in custody.

He worked for the army's procurement agency, which employs about 12,000 people, including 1,800 soldiers. In 2021, the agency struck deals for the purchase of Bundeswehr weapons and equipment with a total volume of €17.6 billion ($19.3 billion).

“In May 2023 he approached the Russian general consulate in Bonn and the Russian embassy in Berlin and offered his co-operation,” prosecutors said.

“In the process, he passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for them to be passed on to a Russian intelligence service.”

The investigation against him was conducted in close co-ordination with military intelligence and the domestic security agency, the BfV.

The arrest came after the BfV in June warned against the risk of an “aggressive Russian espionage operation” as Moscow continues its war in Ukraine.

Germany is one of the largest providers of military hardware to Ukraine and is a major target of Russian spying operations.

Western sanctions against Russia and their support for Ukraine's military efforts meant the Kremlin had an “increased interest” in information gathering, the BfV said in its annual report.

Russian intelligence services were trying to “bring new employees to Germany”, as well as pursuing or renewing activities with existing staff.

In mid-April, Berlin expelled a number of Russian diplomats over espionage concerns, prompting the expulsion of 20 German diplomats from Moscow.

A month later, Russia put a limit of 350 on the number of German personnel allowed in Russia, in effect forcing hundreds of civil servants and local employees working for German institutions in Russia to leave the country.

Berlin swiftly retaliated, ordering four of Moscow's five consulates in Germany to close.

Updated: August 09, 2023, 5:18 PM