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German military officer who spied for Russia to receive sentence

Dusseldorf : A German military officer charged with espionage for providing information to a Russian intelligence service is set to receive his sentence on Monday.

The 54-year-old, who is identified only as Thomas H. due to Germany’s strict privacy laws, confessed to the crime when his trial began last month at the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court.

The federal prosecutor’s office said that the officer “offered himself to Russia” in order to give Russian armed forces an advantage.

The defendant, who holds the rank of Captain, had worked at the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).

The Koblenz-based institution is responsible for equipping the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, with equipment and weapons, as well as developing, testing and procuring defence technology.

From May 2023, the man is said to have offered to cooperate with the Russian consulate general in Bonn and the Russian embassy in Berlin on several occasions and on his own initiative.

Defence lawyers said that during a demanding professional period, their client’s media consumption shifted to Telegram and TikTok, where he became steeped in fake news and propaganda. Around this time, he also joined the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The Captain claimed at the trial that he was driven to pass along secret information out of fear of a nuclear escalation of the Ukraine war.

He said that he was worried about being able to get his family to safety in the event of a nuclear attack. He had sought contact with the Russian side to find out in good time “when it was going to go off.”

“It’s the biggest cock-up I’ve ever made in my life,” he said.

Germany has been one of Ukraine’s biggest military supporters in the face of Russia’s ongoing invasion. The country’s security authorities say they have stepped up their efforts to combat espionage by Russian services.

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