Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Alleged Russian spies wanted EU and Nato secrets

  • Berlin: neither Russia or the Netherlands have responded so far (Photo: Wolfgang Staudt)

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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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."

Fresh report into 2003 EU spy scandal points to Israel

Belgium's Standing Intelligence Agencies Review Committee has in a fresh report revealed details of a 2003 Council of Ministers bugging scandal that names Israeli secret services as a potential culprit.

WikiLeaks: US diplomats make fun of EU leaders, spy on EU citizens

American diplomats speak about EU leaders in terms of "Teflon Merkel ... authoritarian Sarkozy [and] feckless Berlusconi," a first batch of secret cables sent to and from US embassies abroad and published by WikiLeaks shows. The cables also reveal details about spying activities on EU citizens and horse-trading on Guantanamo Bay inmates.

News in Brief

  1. British PM scrapes through no confidence vote
  2. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  3. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  4. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  5. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  6. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  7. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  8. German economy hit by global economic turbulence

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us