Dhe Federal Intelligence Service (BND) presumably has a traitor in its own ranks. There is a suspicion that an employee of the German foreign service spied for Russia. The man, named Carsten L., a German national, is said to have transmitted information he had obtained in the course of his professional activity to a Russian intelligence service. These are said to be state secrets, i.e. information that is classified as secret in order to avert dangers to Germany’s external security.
L. was arrested on Wednesday and brought before the investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice on Thursday. Since then he has been in custody, as the Attorney General announced on Thursday afternoon. The investigators searched the apartment and the workplace of the accused and another unspecified person, as well as two BND properties.
Details about the employee’s specific work for the BND or the damage were not given so as not to jeopardize further investigations. “Restraint and discretion are very important in this particular case. On the other hand, with Russia we are dealing with an actor whose unscrupulousness and willingness to use violence we have to reckon with,” said BND President Bruno Kahl on Thursday. The BND itself became aware of the alleged case of treason as part of its intelligence work and first initiated its own investigations and then called in the Federal Public Prosecutor.
Anyone who communicates a state secret to a foreign power or one of its intermediaries and thereby creates the danger of serious damage to the external security of Germany is liable to prosecution for treason. It carries a prison sentence of no less than one year. In serious cases, such as when a responsible position is abused, life imprisonment can even be imposed.
The Federal Intelligence Service subjects all candidates to a detailed security check, and the employees are also checked. Nevertheless, there are cases of treason in the agency. Most recently, in 2014, Markus R. was exposed, who had hired himself out as a source for American services and had been sentenced to eight years in prison.