Tip by Western intelligence helped Germany catch Russia spy suspect: Spiegel

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A tip-off from a friendly Western intelligence agency helped Germany identify an employee in its foreign intelligence service (BND) who was arrested on suspicion of passing state secrets to Russia, the Spiegel magazine reported on Wednesday.

Police in December arrested a German citizen identified as Carsten L. in a treason investigation, and searched his home and workplace and those of another person. The Russian embassy has declined comment.

The German authorities have warned of likely heightened Russian spying given the Kremlin’s standoff with the West over its invasion of Ukraine. The German government expelled what it said were 40 Russian spies in April.

Citing people familiar with the investigation, Spiegel reported that a Western intelligence agency had found material in Moscow’s possession that came from the BND and contained intelligence on Russia.

The suspected double agent was the head of a unit in the BND’s technical reconnaissance department, Spiegel said.

The BND and the attorney general’s office declined comment.

A government spokesperson also declined comment at a press briefing, saying the government took the matter seriously but it would not divulge details about the investigation in a way that could benefit Russia.

The second person whose home was searched also worked for the BND, Spiegel said. The second person had opened documents relevant to the case on their work computer.

However, investigators do not believe the second person worked for Russia, rather that the suspected double agent Carsten L. had tried to divert suspicion from themselves, Spiegel said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has said it would support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, sending aid and weapons to Kyiv since war began in February.

Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Miranda Murray; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alison Williams

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