German spy turned double agent by Russia in Berlin

Vladimir Putin bullies Russia's spy chief in February

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A German spy identified only as Carsten L. has been accused of spying for Vladimir Putin and arrested in Berlin, federal prosecutors said in a statement. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said the intelligence operative had passed “state secrets” to a Russian spy agency.

It said: “The accused is suspected of state treason.

“In 2022, he transmitted information that he had obtained in the course of his professional activities to Russian intelligence services.”

The apartment and workplace of the employee of the Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, and of another person were searched, prosecutors said. Prosecutors gave no details on the second person.

They said the BND employee passed this year “information that he had acquired in his professional activity” to a Russian intelligence service, which they didn’t identify.

They added that the information was a “state secret” as defined by Germany’s criminal code, but did not elaborate.

The suspect was brought Thursday before a judge, who ordered him held in custody pending a possible indictment, prosecutors said.

The investigation was being conducted “in close cooperation” with the BND, they said.

The head of the BND, Bruno Kahl, said the intelligence service brought in prosecutors immediately after internal investigations substantiated information about a possible case of treason.

He said there were searches at two BND properties following Wednesday’s arrest.

Kahl said in an emailed statement that the intelligence service would not say more until further notice because “caution and discretion are very important in this special case.”

He added: “With Russia, we are dealing with an actor where we must reckon with its ruthlessness and willingness to be violent.”

He pointed to the alleged “unscrupulousness and propensity to violence” of Russia and added that “every detail of this event that becomes public means an advantage for this adversary in its intention to damage Germany.”

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In a previous case involving a suspected double agent at the agency, a former BND employee in 2016 was convicted of violating Germany’s official secrets law and sentenced to eight years in prison for providing classified information largely to the CIA.

Germany is among the countries that have given financial and military support to Ukraine as it faces Russia’s invasion.

Commenting on the case, Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice-chancellor, said it was “particularly alarming”.

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