Berlin unmasks a double agent in the service of Russia | DW | 23.12.2022

Twenty-four hours after the arrest of the German national Carsten L., very few details filter. Il Thursday (22.12.2022): “Restraint and discretion are very important in this particular case,” he said. Russia is “an actor whose lack of scruples and propensity for violence are to be taken into account”, he added, and “every detail made public in this affair represents an advantage for this adversary, in his intent to harm Germany”.

Senior BND official

The arrested agent is suspected of high treason and, according to the federal prosecutor’s office, he would have provided “information collected within the framework of his work to a Russian intelligence service”.

What information exactly? And in which Russian service? Impossible to say at the moment. On the other hand, media have indicated that Carsten L is a senior official of the BND and that his position also allowed him to have access to material provided by friendly intelligence agencies of the German services – in particular American and British.

Call for vigilance

With concern and determination: since yesterday, calls for greater vigilance in the face of Russia have multiplied.

“This is not just a military threat, this is hybrid warfare”said for example Nils Schmid foreign policy expert of the Social Democratic Party. Russia has considered itself for years in conflict, even at war, with the West and believes that all means are permitted, from the assassination of opponents on German soil to espionage. And this is where we must act with great vigilance and determination.”

A few weeks ago, a German reserve officer received a suspended prison sentence of one year and nine months for spying for Russia.

Russian espionage activities on German soil are not new, but since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, they have redoubled in intensity and the security services regularly warn the German authorities.

Authorities on the lookout

Authorities who, according to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, have all their senses on alert. She leads the Defense Committee in the German Parliament: “The good news is that anyone spying in Germany, whether for Russia or for another country, should be aware that they can be discovered and taken to court. That is the message to get across. “

Even before the Russian offensive in Ukraine, allegations of cyber espionage had pitted the two countries against each other. Russia is notably accused of a large-scale computer hacking which in 2015 targeted the computers of the Bundestag (the lower house of the German Parliament) and the services of the then Chancellor, Angela Merkel. But cases like the one unveiled Thursday, involving the very heart of German intelligence, which employs more than 6,000 people, are much rarer.

On Thursday, Carsten L was remanded in custody. If found guilty of high treason, he could face a prison sentence of at least five years, or even, depending on the seriousness of the facts, a life sentence.

Berlin unmasks a double agent in the service of Russia | DW | 23.12.2022