German threat to prosecute for Russian espionage

German prosecutors accused a person of sending data from the House of Representatives to Russia, a case Thursday that revealed the potential for poisoning already strained German-Russian relations.

The suspect, who was identified simply as Jens F., worked for a company that the German Bundestag had repeatedly commissioned checks on his laptops.

As such, he had “access to PDFs containing property plans” for the House of Representatives of the German Parliament, located in the heart of Berlin, detailing the federal prosecutor, responsible for espionage cases.

Between the end of July and the beginning of September 2017, the suspect decided “on his initiative to transfer information about the possessions of the German Bundestag to the Russian intelligence services”, accusing the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe.

Piracy

Consequently, he had sent these documents in the form of PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, suspected of being a member of Russian Military Intelligence.

After an indictment by the federal prosecutor, the suspect now risks going to trial, if the competent court gives the green light.

This espionage case is not the first to poison German-Russian relations.

Thus, Russia is accused of committing a large-scale computer piracy that in 2015 targeted computers in the Bundestag and the services of Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as NATO and the French-language TV5 Monde channel.

The hackers simultaneously obtained personal data from the German chancellor’s mailbox, during the period from 2012 to 2015.

Ms Merkel, who is struggling to maintain the thread of dialogue with President Vladimir Putin, against all odds, denounced the “flagrant” piracy attempts and affirmed that she had “concrete evidence” of the involvement of Russian forces.

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There, too, the GRU military intelligence service was identified by the Germans, which was officially rejected by Russia.

The list of reasons for discord between the two countries has grown steadily in recent years.

In August 2019, the killing of a Chechen minority in the heart of Berlin by a man suspected of acting on orders from Moscow sparked tensions between the two capitals.

Since the end of 2019, this case has ended with Berlin expelling Russian diplomats in protest at their lack of cooperation in the investigation. The alleged perpetrator of this murder has been on trial since the fall in Berlin. Moscow also rejects in this case all the accusations.

Russian vaccine support

Mais c’est récemment le cas de l’opposant Alexeï Navalny, soigné à Berlin après un empoisonnement qu’il impute aux services russes qui a un peu plus crispé les relations, à quelques mois du 80e anniversaire de l’invasion par Nazis de les Russia.

Berlin has repeatedly called for the release of the first Kremlin opponent, who was imprisoned upon his return to Russia on January 17.

Germany, like Sweden and Poland, expelled Russian diplomats on February 8, in retaliation for similar measures taken by Moscow against diplomats accused of participating in protests in support of Navalny.

Despite these strained relations, Moscow and Berlin continue to defend against the controversial pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, which will link the two countries, despite opposition from the United States.

Angela Merkel, who will step down at the end of the year after 16 years in the chancellery, sees Nord Stream as an “economic file” in which the government has always refused to intervene, “according to a spokesperson for the German leader.

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Berlin is also in the process of developing a Russian vaccine against Covid in Europe, Sputnik V. A German laboratory, IDT Biologika, can participate in the production of the Russian vaccine.

Angela Merkel also suggested that the German Medicines Agency “support Russia” in its request for approval from the relevant European EMA.

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