Alleged Russian spies wanted EU and Nato secrets
Germany has indicted two alleged Russian spies who tried to get hold of EU and Nato secrets.
The office of the German federal prosector said in a statement on Thursday (27 September) that the married couple, who were arrested last year, "had the task of gathering information about the political and military strategy of the EU and Nato."
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It added that between 2008 and 2011 they worked with a Russian agent in the Dutch foreign ministry who gave them "official" EU and Nato documents.
It said they also gave Moscow their "own information" collected from German political and social contacts about relations between Germany, Russia, the EU and Nato.
It noted that the Russian foreign intelligence service, the SVR, paid them about €100,000 a year. They used to get their SVR instructions via shortwave radio. They filed reports using satellite communications and a video link on the Internet. They used dead drops to get material from the Dutch agent.
The prosecutor also noted that they were born in South America and came to Germany in 1988 with fake Austrian identities.
They used the aliases "Heidrun A." and "Andreas A." and created a "bourgeois existence" to cover up their activities.
For its part, German magazine Spiegel Online on Thursday said that 52-year-old Heidrun was born in Peru and that 46-year-old Andreas was born in Argentina.
It noted that Heidrun studied mechanical and plastics engineering in Aachen after moving to Germany. They got married in 1990 and had a daughter.
The magazine added that they lived in a modest property in Michelbach, near Stuttgart.
It said Heidrun was talking on the radio with her SVR superior on 18 October last year when German special police stormed the house and that she was "so frightened" that she fell of her chair, pulling a set of wires out of the wall.
They are to be prosecuted at the Stuttgart regional court.
The last big spy scandal in Europe concerned Herman Simm, an Estonian defence ministry official who gave thousands of internal Estonian, EU and Nato documents to the SVR.
He was jailed in 2009 for 12 and a half years.
The head of Belgium's state security service, the VSSE, recently told EUobserver in an interview that: "In Belgium, espionage, Russian espionage and from other countries, like the Chinese, but also others, [is] at the same level as the Cold War."