A German man has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing information on properties used by the German parliament to Russian military intelligence, prosecutors have said.
Identified only as Jens F in line with German privacy rules, the suspect worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to check portable electrical appliances by the Bundestag – the lower house of parliament.
Federal prosecutors said he had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved.
The Bundestag is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites.
At some point before early September 2017, the suspect “decided of his own accord” to give information on the properties to Russian intelligence, the prosecutors said.
They allege he sent the PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, who was an officer with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.
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In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU agency over a cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015.
Additionally, a Russian man accused of killing a Georgian man in downtown Berlin on Moscow’s orders in 2019 is on trial in Berlin.
And last year’s poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment and then arrested immediately on his return to Russia, has added another layer to tensions.
Image: Alexei Navalny was arrested immediately on his return to Russia. Pic: AP
Mr Navalny became ill during a domestic flight in Russia on 20 August last year.
After tests by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed the nerve agent novichok was used in the poisoning, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov accused Germany of “not planning to provide any facts, despite all international and legal obligations”.
Six members of the Russian government were handed EU and UK travel bans and asset freezes following the incident.
Source : Sky News