German man tried for spying on parliament for Russians

Berlin: The German employee of a security company went on trial Wednesday for allegedly passing on floor plans of parliament buildings to Russian secret services, a case that has further frayed ties between Berlin and Moscow.

The suspect named only as Jens F., 56, is accused of handing over a CD-Rom with more than 300 files of floor plans of buildings used by the German Bundestag to the military attache of the Russian embassy in 2017.

The military attache in post at that time is believed to be an employee of Russia’s GRU military intelligence service. The suspect meanwhile worked for a security company contracted by the Bundestag.

Reading out the charge sheet before a court in Berlin, prosecutor Frank Stuppi accused the man of espionage.

The suspect did not make any statements at the opening of the trial.

The court revealed that a plea bargain had been offered with a jail term of between 20 months to two years, but that was not taken up by the suspect.

The defence had advised Jens F. not to plead guilty, arguing there was no proof that he had transmitted the information to the Russians.

According to defence lawyer Friedrich Humke, the prosecution’s case is based on the life of his client — who was once an army officer in former communist East Germany.

“Countless people have access to the floor plans,” said Humke, adding that “none of the sent files was marked ‘classified’.” – AFP