SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Germany spy passed Ariane rocket details to Russia, prosecutors say

A Russian scientist working at a German university who was arrested last year for spying for Russia shared information about Europe's Ariane space rocket programme, prosecutors said Thursday.

Ariane space rocket
The Ariane space rocket, details of which were allegedly passed onto Russia by the spy. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Photo | Frank T. Koch / Hill Media GmbH

The accused, identified only as Ilnur N., has been charged with suspected secret service activity, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

Ilnur N. was working at a Bavarian university when he was contacted by Russian foreign intelligence service SVR in the autumn of 2019, they allege.

He “passed on information on research projects in the field of aerospace technology, in particular the various development stages of the European launcher Ariane”, they said.

The European Space Agency’s Ariane programme consists of a series of transportation rockets designed to ferry heavy loads including satellites into space.

According to prosecutors, Ilnur N. held “regular meetings” from late November 2019 onwards with the senior officer of Russia’s foreign intelligence service stationed in Germany.

He allegedly received 2,500 euros ($2,800) in cash in exchange for the information he shared, which also included details about his scientific research at the unnamed Bavarian university.

Ilnur N. was arrested last June on suspicion of spying for Moscow.

Prosecutors said he worked as a research assistant at the university’s natural sciences and technology department.

The case comes at a time of heightened tensions between Germany and Russia, as the West fears Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germany is in a muddle over Russia – and it only has itself to blame

Germany has seen a string of suspected cases of Russian espionage on its soil recently.

In October 2021, a German man was handed a two-year suspended sentence for passing on floor plans of parliament buildings to Russian secret services while employed by a security company.

In August, a former employee of the British embassy in Berlin was arrested on suspicion of having passed on documents to Russian intelligence.

Germany has also repeatedly accused Russia of cyber espionage.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

GERHARD SCRHÖDER

German ex-Chancellor Schröder leaves Rosneft board

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder will leave the board of directors of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company said on Friday, following public pressure.

German ex-Chancellor Schröder leaves Rosneft board

Rosneft said that Schröder and Nord Stream 2 CEO Matthias Warnig informed the company that it was “impossible to extend their powers on the board of directors” a day after Germany stripped Schröder of official perks over ties with Russia.

Rosneft praised their “strategic vision” and “significant contribution to the international business of the company”.

“Their role in the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects in Russia and Germany, aimed at increasing the efficiency of the Germany economy and its industry and the well-being of its citizens, is invaluable,” Rosneft added.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over links to Russia

Schröder, who was Germany’s leader from 1998 to 2005, had been slammed for refusing to quit his posts with Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom following Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The German Bundestag’s decision to strip Schröder of an office and paid staff on Thursday came after a long effort to get him to turn his back on President Vladimir Putin. 

“The coalition parliamentary groups have drawn consequences from the behaviour of former chancellor and lobbyist Gerhard Schröder in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the parliament decided.

“The office of the former chancellor shall be suspended,” it said, noting that Schröder “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

The cost of Schröder’s office and employees was estimated to cost taxpayers around €400,000 per year. 

EU lawmakers separately called in a non-binding resolution on the bloc to slap sanctions on Schröder and other Europeans who refuse to give up lucrative board seats at Russian companies.

Schröder, 78, is due to join the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in June.

SHOW COMMENTS