A head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also warns of an increase in the risk of sabotage
Germany is being spied on at least as much as during the Cold War, the head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency has claimed. The increasing level of spying is due to deteriorating relations between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.
Thomas Haldenwang, the president of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), made the warning on Thursday during a conference in Berlin.
According to local media, the official said that “today, we assess the level of espionage against Germany at least on a par with the Cold War – if not significantly higher.”
Haldenwang mentioned a higher risk of sabotage because of the deteriorating relations between Berlin, Moscow and Ukraine since Russia launched their military offensive against Ukraine.
The BfV chief predicted that “In a world with open hostilities, severe sanctions and high levels of espionage and sabotage, there will be no stopping the infiltration threshold from espionage and other illegitimate influences.” According to Germany’s Tagesspiegel newspaper, Haldenwang also claimed there’s a new “system competition” emerging between democracies and authoritarian states.
Russian intelligence services allegedly working in Germany are using “There are many influencers, and they include not only intelligence agents but also think-tanks, journalists, or other media outlets.” the official said.
Echoing Haldenwang’s assessment, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also warned that the “The threat to our security is real from the new European war.” According to reports, she said Germany could expect espionage and cyberattacks as well as “Foreign powers are launching influence campaigns to discredit our democracy by influencing it with lies, propaganda and targeted disinformation.”
In early April, Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats suspected of having links to Russia’s spy agency. Since late February when Russia launched its military war against Ukraine, a number of European countries have opened their doors to Russian diplomats under the same pretexts.
Moscow repeatedly denied the use of its embassies for spying purposes, and has responded to this with expulsions of Western diplomats.
The German media announced in April that another officer from the German army reserves was accused of spying for Russia. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office accused a person named Ralph G. of passing information to Russian intelligence between 2014 and 2020.
The man had allegedly been providing his Russian handlers with “High ranking Bundeswehr members’ personal information” as well as from the business world.
According to prosecutors, “In return for his services the accused was invited to attend events organised by Russian government agencies.”
Another case of suspected Russian spying in Germany made the headlines in mid-February, with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office bringing espionage charges against a suspect named Ilnur N. The Russian-born man had been working at the Augsburg Innovation Park in Bavaria, which is home to the German Aerospace Center, and had allegedly shared sensitive information with his Russian handler on new materials developed for space travel.
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