German army translator sentenced for treason after spying for Iran

The defendant was found guilty after passing state secrets to Iran

epa08266925 A handout photo made available by the US Army shows Mauritanian troops assaulting a compound full of opposition forces during a culmination exercise assessed by German Bundeswehr soldiers after being trained by them daily during Flintlock 2020, in Kaedi, Maurtania, 25 February 2020 (issued 03 March 2020). Flintlock is an annual, integrated military and law enforcement exercise that has strengthened key partner-nation forces throughout North and West Africa. Flintlock is US Africa Command's premier and largest annual Special Forces exercise.  EPA/US ARMY/CPL. KEVIN STERLING PAYNE HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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A German-Afghan translator for the German army was sentenced to six years and ten months in prison for treason on Monday after he was found guilty of having spied for Iran in exchange for money.

Judges found that Abdul S., 51, had "passed on state secrets of a military nature to an employee of an Iranian intelligence service" in a "particularly serious case of treason", the higher regional court in Koblenz said in a statement.

His German-Afghan wife Asiea S., 40, was convicted of having aided and abetted treason and handed a suspended sentence of ten months.

Treason usually means a sentence of at least 15 years in Germany, but the judges took into account that both defendants had confessed to their crimes and had no previous convictions, the court said.

Kabul-born Abdul S. worked for several years as a civilian translator and cultural adviser to the German Bundeswehr at the Heinrich-Hertz barracks in the town of Daun, near Koblenz.

The court found that he had met with Iranian intelligence contacts in different European cities on "at least eight" occasions between 2013 and 2017.

At those meetings, he had passed on information including "German army maps about military situations" and "defence ministry analyses of particular countries and topics".

He reportedly earned 34,500 euros ($37,000) for his espionage before deciding to break off contact.

His wife supported him from 2016 onwards by helping him with "logistical" matters such as travel arrangements, the court said.

Abdul S. was arrested in January 2019, reportedly after a tip-off from abroad and a sting operation to catch him in the act.

The trial, which opened in January, took place largely behind closed doors and was covered by strict and rarely used confidentiality procedures to protect state secrecy.

Germany's BfV domestic intelligence agency has identified Iran as one of the countries most active in spying on Germany, along with China and Russia.

In 2018, Germany arrested a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat suspected of being a spy. Prosecutors alleged he was plotting with a Belgium-based couple to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris.