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German ex-army officer admits spying for Russia, blames fear of nuclear war

by Chris York April 30, 2024 12:06 AM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes: Those against the rise of the far-right gather for a rally on Jan. 27, 2024, in Gera, Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Germany to protest against the AfD following the recent revelation that high-ranking AfD members met with far-right extremists at a villa in Potsdam last November. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)
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A former German army captain has admitted spying for Russia, saying he was motivated over fears of a global nuclear escalation amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

Identified only as Thomas H., the 54-year-old went on trial in Dusseldorf on April 29 charged with conducting espionage on behalf of Moscow and leaking state secrets.

"It was wrong. I stand by that," he said on the opening day of the trial, adding the accusations against him are "broadly accurate."

He was a serving officer when he was arrested in August of last year. The charges against him were made public on March 19.

The accused said he had become concerned about his family's safety after viewing pro-Russian content that played up the risk of the war in Ukraine escalating into a nuclear conflict.

Disturbed by what he saw, he claims he decided to contact Russian authorities in order to find out "when it was going to go off."

He is alleged to have approached, both Russia's consulate in Bonn and its embassy in Berlin in May 2023 with offers to cooperate as well as providing sensitive information.

Thomas H. worked at a German army facility in Koblenz responsible for equipping Berlin's Armed Forces and testing new military technology.

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Prosecutors say he photographed military documents and dropped them into the letterbox of the Russian consulate in Bonn. He was not paid for the information, they added.

"He passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for it to be passed on to a Russian intelligence service," prosecutors said.

Around the same time he also successfully applied to join the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The case is one of several security and intelligence scandals Berlin has found itself grappling with since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, German authorities arrested two German-Russian nationals suspected of planning a military sabotage plot on behalf of Russian intelligence, Germany's Federal Prosecutor's Office said on April 18.

And in March, Russian-state media obtained a recording of senior German military officials discussing weapons for Ukraine and other sensitive information in an incident that caused a significant international diplomatic incident.

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