Former German spy goes on trial on treason charges

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2015 1:26 PM
Former German spy goes on trial on treason charges

BERLIN (AP) — A 32-year-old former German spy has admitted providing classified information to the CIA, saying he acted out of boredom and frustration, the dpa news agency reported Monday.

Markus R., whose last name wasn't given in line with German privacy laws, made the confession at the opening of his trial at Munich's state court.

He is accused of treason, violating Germany's official secrets regulations and corruption, charges that carry a penalty of one year to life if he is convicted.

The case heightened diplomatic tensions between Germany and the United States — already fraught because of reports about U.S. surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone — and led Germany to request the removal of the CIA station chief in Berlin.

Prosecutors allege that R. passed classified material to the CIA between 2008 and 2014 in return for payment of 95,000 euros ($102,000). The information reportedly included lists of current and former German agents working abroad and their aliases.

The defendant, who has physical disabilities, told the court that he joined Germany's foreign intelligence agency BND by chance, after randomly sending applications to several companies and government bodies. "At the BND I had the impression that I wasn't considered very capable," dpa quoted him as saying in court.

R. added that he felt the CIA appreciated his work. "I would lie if I said that I didn't like that," he told the court, according to dpa.

He was arrested in 2014, shortly after sending an unencrypted email to the Russian consulate in Munich offering three BND documents.

The trial is expected to last until March.