Wednesday

31st May 2023

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Opinion

How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon

The EU led support for the waste management crisis in Lebanon, spending around €89m between 2004-2017, with at least €30m spent on 16 solid-waste management facilities. However, it failed to deliver.

Latest News

  1. Germany unsure if Orbán fit to be 'EU president'
  2. EU Parliament chief given report on MEP abuse 30 weeks before sanction
  3. EU clashes over protection of workers exposed to asbestos
  4. EU to blacklist nine Russians over jailing of dissident
  5. Russia-Ukraine relations the Year After the war
  6. Why creating a new legal class of 'climate refugees' is a bad idea
  7. Equatorial Guinea: a 'tough nut' for the EU
  8. New EU ethics body and Moldova conference This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us