Germany’s foreign intelligence service is investigating a second possible Russian spy in its ranks, it has emerged.
Carsten L, who oversaw BND recruitment, was arrested in December after allegedly passing secrets to Moscow.
On Sunday, German police arrested a former German soldier, Arthur E, at Munich Airport on suspicion of acting as a “courier” for the top-ranking official.
The BND is now probing whether another of its employees was involved in the plot, ferrying Arthur E past airport security, according to Der Spiegel newspaper.
The scandal is the biggest to hit a European spy service for decades and has undermined international trust in the BND.
Middleman could have acted unwittingly
Arthur E, 31, was said to have made several trips to Moscow bringing with him documents relating to the war in Ukraine, including those possibly intercepted in covert operations.
After his arrest, Arthur E told investigators that he believed he was on a secret mission for the BND and not an accomplice of a turncoat.
The 31-year-old said upon returning on one trip from Moscow, he handed over an envelope stuffed with cash from the Russians to an unnamed man.
The man, said to be a BND colleague of Carsten L, allegedly helped smuggle Arthur E out of an airport building through a special area before customs controls after his arrival.
However, the alleged middleman could have acted unwittingly and the suspicions against him have not been substantiated, Der Spiegel reported.
Investigators, the paper said, felt there was reason to believe the BND employee may not have known what he was involved in. They did not give much credence to Arthur E’s similar claims.
Carsten L is being investigated for suspected treason, which can be punished with sentences ranging from one year to life in prison.
Arthur E, whose Russian citizenship was revoked in 1999, faces the same charges.
He was arrested returning to Germany from the United States after a joint investigation by the BND and the FBI.
According to Der Spiegel, Arthur E had already been interviewed by US investigators, who seized his laptop, hard drive and mobile phones before making his return trip to Europe.
During interrogations in Germany, the 31-year-old detailed at least two trips to Moscow, where he met contacts arranged for him by Carsten L.
He said on one occasion, members of Russia’s FSB bemoaned the quality of the intelligence handed to them.
Flight information from the trips, which were taken last year between Oct 6 and Nov 11, could not be identified, giving the appearance the FSB had worked to conceal the journeys.
Neither Arthur E’s or Carsten L’s lawyers have commented on the allegations.
Arthur E, who has Russian roots, was born in 1991, but has spent the majority of his life living as a German.
In 2009, he signed up for a 12-year stint in the German military, training as a IT specialist and non-commissioned officer.
But in the summer of 2015, the then 24-year-old requested to end his service early.
After that, he plunged into relative obscurity, last registered as living in Munich with the website of an import-export firm registered under his name.
In the last three years, Arthur E has rated some 1,300 restaurants, hotels and shops on Google Maps.
Arthur E’s last Google rating came four months ago, when he gave a supermarket, a two-minute drive from the home of Carsten L in Upper Bavaria, five stars.
Described as a “frequent flyer”, he was pictured at a fashion show in Moscow in 2019.
In May 2022, a Russian media report said the 31-year-old, as the managing director of Jamal Trading, a firm based in Sierra Leone, had been at an event of a business that supplies the Russian military.
His Russian migration files, according to Der Spiegel, show that he was in Moscow when Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, ordered his troops into Ukraine, and stayed until early April.
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