German man arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia from Reichstag

German prosecutors said Thursday they have filed spying charges against a German man suspected of passing on data from parliament to Russian secret services.

German man arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia from Reichstag
The Reichstag. Photo: DPA

The suspect, named only as Jens F., worked for a company that was contracted by the Bundestag to carry out regular checks on electric equipment in parliament.

“Against this background, the defendant had access to PDF files with the floor plans of” parliamentary properties, said federal prosecutors.

The suspect is believed to have decided sometime in the summer of 2017 to pass on the information to Russian secret services.

“For that, he prepared a data carrier with the corresponding PDF files and sent it to an employee in the Russian embassy in Berlin, who mainly works for the Russian military secret service GRU,” said prosecutors.

German intelligence services have repeatedly warned about spying attempts or cyberattacks launched by Russian hackers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel herself told parliament last May that she had concrete proof that Russia was targeting her in the attacks.

The German parliament fell victim in 2015 to a cyber assault, and local media have named the suspect in that attack as Dmitry Badin, who is also wanted by the FBI for other similar attempts.

The latest spy charges raised by prosecutors are likely to further inflame tensions between Berlin and Moscow.

Ties are already badly frayed over the poisoning and subsequent jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Moscow has firmly denied any accusations of cyberattacks, or involvement in the poisoning of Navalny using the deadly Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

But Germany has pointed to ‘unequivocal’ proof of the Novichok murder attempt.

Navalny had received treatment in Berlin but last month returned to Moscow where he was immediately imprisoned.

The European Union earlier this week agreed new sanctions on four senior Russian officials over the Navalny affair.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lashed out at the decision, saying the West was seeking to “shackle” his country.

READ MORE: Sweden, Germany and Poland throw out Russian diplomats in row over Navalny protest

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Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow

German police arrested a Russian scientist working at an unidentified university, accusing him of spying for Moscow, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that risks further inflaming bilateral tensions.

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow
Vladimir Putin. Photo: dpa/AP | Patrick Semansky

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of “working for a Russian secret service since early October 2020 at the latest”.

Ilnur N. was employed until the time of his arrest as a research assistant for a natural sciences and technology department at the unnamed German university.

German investigators believe he met at least three times with a member of Russian intelligence between October 2020 and this month. On two occasions he allegedly “passed on information from the university’s domain”.

He is suspected of accepting cash in exchange for his services.

German authorities searched his home and workplace in the course of the arrest.

The suspect appeared before a judge on Saturday who remanded him in custody.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Neither the German nor the Russian government made any immediate comment on the case.

However Moscow is at loggerheads with a number of Western capitals after a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

Italy this month said it had created a national cybersecurity agency following warnings by Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needed to
protect itself from Russian “interference”. 

The move came after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed by police while selling confidential military documents leaked from his computer to a Russian embassy official.


The leaders of nine eastern European nations last month condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

Several central and eastern European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

The latest espionage case also comes at a time of highly strained relations between Russia and Germany on a number of fronts including the ongoing detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who received treatment in Berlin after a near-fatal poisoning.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moreover worked to maintain a sanctions regime over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the scene of ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and local forces.

And Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks on its soil.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that completely paralysed the computer network of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

German prosecutors in February filed espionage charges against a German man suspected of having passed the floor plans of parliament to Russian secret services in 2017.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week said Germany was expecting to be the target of Russian disinformation in the run-up to its general election in September, calling it “completely unacceptable”.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Despite international criticism, Berlin has forged ahead with plans to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany.