Germany arrests suspected double agent accused of spying for China

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MUNICH — German authorities arrested a former spy for Germany’s secret service on suspicions that he conducted “intelligence agent activities” for China, the federal prosecutor’s office said Tuesday.

According to a press release from the prosecutor’s office, the man — named only as Klaus L. — allegedly supplied the Chinese secret service with information for almost a decade, starting in 2010.

At the same time, however, he was an informant for the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND). German public broadcaster ARD reported that the man, now 75, provided the BND with information for 50 years, leading a “double life.”

Publicly, he was a political scientist, working for the Hanns Seidel Foundation — a political research foundation closely associated with the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s conservatives — from the 1980s until retirement. He has also run a think tank since 2001.

The suspect was arrested on Monday, on the basis of charges filed in May, the prosecutor’s office said.

As part of his work, he traveled abroad frequently, for example for guest lectures, across “the former Soviet Union and later Russia, the Balkans, South Africa and South Asia,” ARD reported, adding that the BND would be involved in meetings his think tank held with foreign guests. The Hanns Seidel Foundation told the broadcaster it had been unaware of the man’s BND activities.

In 2010, according to the prosecutor’s office, he traveled to Shanghai for a lecture and was approached “by members of a Chinese intelligence service in order to win him over for cooperation.”

“Subsequently, until November 2019, the defendant regularly provided information to the Chinese intelligence service in the run-up to or after state visits or multinational conferences, as well as on current affairs,” the prosecutor’s office’s statement continued.

According to ARD, the suspect — whose home was searched in November 2019 — did not deny that he had spied for China, but insisted that he had told the BND about his contacts to the Chinese, at least initially.

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