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Bundeswehr reserve officer sentenced for espionage in favor of Russia

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Ralph G., a reserve officer of the German Armed Forces (the Bundeswehr), was found guilty of espionage in favor of Russia. He was sentenced to one year and nine months of suspended imprisonment.

According to a report by Deutsche Welle, the officer transmitted to the Russian military attaché information about the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr reservist system, and the consequences of EU sanctions against Russia and cyber information from 2014 to 2020. The officer pleaded guilty in court.

He was motivated by “an extremely friendly attitude towards Russia and a desire to achieve popularity and importance among Russian servicemen,” said the presiding judge.

The prosecutors demanded to sentence the defendant to two years of conditional imprisonment and a fine of 25 thousand euros. His lawyer insisted on an acquittal, arguing that the transferred information was not secret and was in the public domain.

But the investigation showed that the data from the White Book of the German Defense Ministry – the basic unclassified document describing the goals, tasks and structure of the German army – was passed by the defendant to the Russian attaché even before its official publication.

At the end of January, another espionage scandal involving Russia broke out in Germany. An employee of the Russian consulate in Munich was declared persona non grata for spying. The accredited diplomat was an officer of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and acted as a liaison agent for a Russian academic whose arrest on espionage charges was announced the day before.

Der Spiegel reported that the expulsion came shortly after the summer 2021 detention of Ilnur N., a researcher from Augsburg University whom prosecutors suspected of passing information about Europe's Ariane space launch vehicle to the SVR.

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