Saturday 14 December 2019

Germany claims couple spied for Russia

Matthew Day Stuttgart

A German couple spied for Russia for more than 20 years while living a double life of a mundane "middle-class existence", a court has heard in one of the biggest espionage trials since the Cold War.

Prosecutors alleged that the husband and wife, identified only by their aliases Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, spied on Nato and the EU in a career that lasted more than two decades, spanning the demise of the old Soviet KGB and the rise of its successor, the SVR.

The word "anschlag" means attack in German.

So complete was their double life that even their own daughter was apparently unaware that her parents were spies.

The Anschlags denied the charges in the court in Stuttgart. In their only exchange, Mr Anschlag asked his wife how she was, as neither had seen each other since their arrest in October 2011.

Wolfgang Siegmund, prosecuting, told the court that the couple had "the mission from SVR headquarters to obtain Nato and EU political and military secrets".

German intelligence suggests that Mr Anschlag entered West Germany in 1988, to be joined by his wife in 1990. Both, it is alleged, were given forged documents, false identities and a cover story of being Austrians born in South America.

Planted in Germany, they went on to construct a cover of "middle-class existence" to hide their activities. Mr Anschlag got a job in the car industry, while his wife played the role of housewife in the prosperous town of Meckenheim.

The court heard that the couple paid Raymond Valentino Poeteray, a Dutch diplomat, €70,000 for hundreds of documents. They would then allegedly use an array of spy techniques, including "dead-letter boxes" – under certain trees for example – from where files were retrieved by employees of the Russian consulate.

The court heard the pair also communicated with Moscow using text messages via satellite phone or hidden messages in comments on YouTube.

The couple's apparent career in spying only came to an end following a tip-off from the FBI after it had unearthed a group of sleeper agents, including Anna Chapman, in America.

If found guilty the couple could face up to 10 years behind bars. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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