Thursday

30th Jun 2022

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.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  2. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit
  3. Russia urges Nato not to build bases in Sweden, Finland
  4. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  5. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  6. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  7. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  8. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  2. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  3. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  4. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike
  5. EU's post-Covid billions flowing into black hole
  6. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  7. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  8. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us