WorldGerman political scientist arrested spying for China

German political scientist arrested spying for China


A woman passes in front of the Chinese Embassy in Berlin in December 2017.Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Klaus L. officially worked for a foundation, but he actually collaborated with the BND, a German foreign spy agency. And at the same time, as revealed at his arrest this week, he was providing information to the Chinese secret services. The man, a 75-year-old political scientist of German nationality, was arrested Monday in Bavaria for spying for China on a regular basis for nearly a decade, according to the German federal prosecutor’s indictment. Its “scientific reputation and the networks built over many years” were of great interest to the Asian country’s intelligence services, which repaid their services, the prosecution said.

Klaus L. has led a double life since at least June 2010, when it is believed that he was recruited in Shanghai during a conference trip as an expert on international politics. Prosecutors believe that at least until November 2019 he regularly passed information on to the Chinese secret services. I delivered the data before or after State visits or multinational conferences, and also when relevant events occurred in the news. The information was obtained, according to a press release from the Public Ministry, through “the numerous high-level political contacts he gained through his work” at the foundation. The statement does not mention that Klaus L. was an informant for the BND, a fact revealed by the public channel ARD citing intelligence sources.

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The man, who was arrested upon arriving at his home in Landshut (Bavaria) on his return from a trip to Italy, received economic compensation for his work in China. According to the MP, Beijing financed the trips so that he could meet with Chinese intelligence officials, in addition to remuneration for services rendered. Klaus L. worked for 50 years for the BND, an entity from which he also received. According to the ARD, his contacts in the German secret services reached high levels, at the management level, and he frequently visited the BND headquarters in Pullach, near Munich.

He did this in parallel with his work at the Hanns Seidel Foundation, close to the CSU —the Bavarian sister party to the CDU Conservatives, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party—, where he began his career in the early 1980s. With the foundation he had the opportunity to travel often abroad as a guest lecturer, for example to the extinct Soviet Union and then to Russia, the Balkans, South Africa, South Asia… When he retired, he remained at the foundation directing a team specialized in international security policy, according to ARD . He had specialized in China and written about the situation of the Uighurs. The channel also reports that he himself informed the BND about the attempted recruitment in China, and that he was suggested to accept to prove what they wanted from him.

The researchers believe that, initially, Klaus L. reported each step to the BND, but that little by little he began to act on his own, as the journal published Suddeutsche Zeitung. Although he never revealed inside information about German secret services, he crossed a red line by sharing his knowledge and experience with a foreign power, an offense that can carry up to five years in prison in Germany. Suspicions about the political scientist are not new. His Munich apartment was already the target of searches in November 2019, when computers and other computer materials were seized.

spy for russia

Just two weeks ago, an employee of a German university was also arrested for providing information in exchange for money to agents of a foreign secret service, in this case the Russian. The prosecutor said at the time that the man had met “at least three times” over a nine-month period with a Russian spy to whom he had provided information about the university.

The suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., worked as a scientific assistant at a chair at the University of Augsburg in Bavaria, who removed the man’s profile from his website as soon as the news broke, according to the newspaper. Bild. The man, of Russian origin, began his career as an engineer at the Baikov Institute of Metallurgy in Moscow, and later also worked at a technological institute near Munich, the Frauenhofer Institut. Neither the German nor the Russian government have publicly commented on this detention, which analysts say could further complicate their already strained relations.

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