Germany arrests Russian citizen suspected of space tech espionage


  • World
  • Thursday, 27 Jan 2022

BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors arrested and charged a Russian citizen with spying for Russia, alleging he had passed information on aerospace technology, in particular the Ariane space launch vehicle, to Russian intelligence.

Federal prosecutors said the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., worked as a scientific researcher at a Bavarian university until his arrest on June 18 last year.

The arrest casts a spotlight on Russian intelligence activity in Germany even as Berlin faces pressure from Western allies to take a more robust stance in support of Ukraine as Russian forces mass on its borders.

Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) first approached him no later than autumn of 2019, the prosecutors said, adding he had told the SVR he was prepared to cooperate with them.

"The agency's interests particularly targeted the various development stages of the European space launcher Ariane and the accused's research into tools," prosecutors said in a statement.

From November 2019 onwards, he regularly met a Germany-based handling officer, repeatedly handing over information on research projects, receiving 2,500 euros ($2,800) in cash.

Germany is a major centre for Russian intelligence operations.

In December, a German court found that Russian agents had been behind the 2019 murder, in broad daylight in a central Berlin park, of a Chechen dissident, an act the judge labelled "state terrorism".

($1 = 0.8929 euros)

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt, editing by Kirsti Knolle and Kim Coghill)

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