• Germany's news in English
 

Alleged Russian spy couple in 'Cold War' trial

Published: 15 Jan 2013 11:25 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Jan 2013 15:58 GMT+01:00

The pair, identified only by codenames Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag (which means attack in German), are said to have been planted in West Germany from 1988 by the Soviet Union's KGB and later used by its SVR successor secret service.

The defendants declined to confirm any details about their real identities or the charges against them as the trial got underway in the higher regional court in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.

Defence lawyer Horst-Dieter Pötschke said they had Russian citizenship.

Prosecutors say one of them arrived in still divided Germany in 1988 -- a year before the Berlin Wall fell -- and the other in 1990, posing as Austrian citizens who had been born and grew up in South America.

According to the Federal Prosecutor's Office, light could only be shed on the final three years of their alleged activities as agents.

They had "the mission from SVR headquarters to obtain NATO and EU political and military secrets", federal public prosecutor Wolfgang Siegmund said, adding: "Particularly also geo-strategic findings on the relationship of NATO and the EU with the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia."

Prosecutors say the couple set up a "middle-class existence" to cover up their activity for the secret services.

Andreas Anschlag studied engineering and worked in the auto industry while Heidrun was a housewife. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung weekly, even their own daughter had no idea about their double lives.

The couple allegedly passed on documents they obtained from a Dutch official in the foreign ministry between 2008 and 2011.

The court heard that the official, Raymond Valentino Poeteray, obtained several hundred pages of classified, partly secret documents from different Dutch embassies and received more than €72,000 for his efforts.

The accused left the documents in "dead-letter boxes", for example under certain trees, from where they were picked up by employees of the Russian consulate general in the western city of Bonn, according to the federal prosecutor.

Heidrun Anschlag was responsible for communicating with the SVR via short-wave radio, the court heard.

The pair, who were allegedly jointly paid around €100,000 a year, communicated with their Moscow masters using text messages, satellite phones and hidden messages in comments in YouTube videos under agreed names, it heard.

In mid-2011, Siegmund said the pair had received orders to withdraw from Germany because of the risk of being exposed and were preparing to do so when they were arrested in October of that year.

They face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

On the sidelines of the trial, defence lawyer Pötschke said the documents in question were "of average quality" and "so, no so-called grave damage occurred" to Germany.

The trial is expected to last until the end of June.

Germany's domestic intelligence services discovered the couple after receiving a tip from the FBI in the United States, which unmasked Russian SVR agents on its own soil.

Der Spiegel magazine dubbed it "one of the most spectacular cases since the end of the Cold War."

When the first of the two defendants arrived in Germany, the Russian security services were still the Soviet Union's KGB and President Vladimir Putin was a KGB operative in the East German city of Dresden.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:26 January 15, 2013 by MattyB
The Cold War never really ended, it just evolved a bit.
15:20 January 15, 2013 by DoubleDTown
so now what happens to the daughter? Presumably she was born in Deutschland and grew up thinking she was the child of Germans and thus a German citizen. Does she now lose her inherited German citizenship and have to chose between Germany and Russia?
17:31 January 15, 2013 by IchBinKönig
As is so often the case, they were probably Journalists, Industrialists or Lobbyists.
21:16 January 18, 2013 by octavian61
"Christ, I miss the Cold War!"
Today's headlines
Cologne's giant bomb successfully defused
The bomb was burrowed deep in the ground. Photo: DPA

Cologne's giant bomb successfully defused

Bomb disposal teams have successfully made a 1,000-kilo explosive dropped during the Second World War safe, allowing 20,000 evacuated people to return to their homes. READ  

Cabinet revives plan to grab internet records
Anti-surveillance demonstrators in Berlin's Alexanderplatz in 2013. Photo: DPa

Cabinet revives plan to grab internet records

Germany's coalition government agreed on a draft law on Wednesday requiring telecoms companies to keep customers' data for up to ten weeks in case they are needed by security services, riling digital rights activists. READ  

The Local List
Germany's most idyllic swimming spots
Photo: Celsius / Wikimedia Commons.

Germany's most idyllic swimming spots

A European ranking released last week showed that Germany had one of the highest numbers of 'excellent' lakes and rivers for swimming, so The Local picked out some of the best places to take a dip in Germany this summer. READ  

Mediterranean migrant crisis
Germany to take most in refugee quota project
The German navy rescues refugees in the Mediterranean. Photo: DPA.

Germany to take most in refugee quota project

Germany found out on Wednesday it will have to take in the largest number of refugees under the European Commission's new quota system which aims to rehouse 60,000 people over the next two years. READ  

Foreign investors rate Germany Europe's best
A worker assembling motors at a Magdeburg factory. Photo: DPA

Foreign investors rate Germany Europe's best

Germany is behind only China and the USA as a destination for foreign investment, a study has shown. READ  

Merkel 'deceived' public on No-Spy treaty
Photo: DPA

Merkel 'deceived' public on No-Spy treaty

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government tricked the public into believing the USA was prepared to sign a so-called 'no-spy agreement' with Germany ahead of elections in 2013, a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung claimed on Wednesday. READ  

Forbes: Merkel still world's mightiest woman
Photo: DPA

Forbes: Merkel still world's mightiest woman

Chancellor Angela Merkel tops the Forbes list of the world's most powerful women for the fifth straight year but Hillary Clinton is snapping at her heels, the magazine said on Tuesday. READ  

German public shop with renewed confidence
People throng the halls of the Milaneo shopping centre in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

German public shop with renewed confidence

Consumer confidence in Germany is at its highest in 13.5 years, as the positive economic outlook and low inflation persuade consumers to open their purses, a poll found on Wednesday. READ  

Shocked fishermen hook a shell of a catch
Locals enjoy the normally tranquil Seeburger See

Shocked fishermen hook a shell of a catch

A couple of friends who went for a quiet spot of fishing on Lake Seeburg in Lower Saxony on Monday got the fright of their life when they pulled up their net to find an artillery shell inside. READ  

10 facts to celebrate Leipzig's 1,000th birthday
Leipzig's impressive skyline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 facts to celebrate Leipzig's 1,000th birthday

This weekend the city of Leipzig is celebrating its 1,000th anniversary, since it was first mentioned by the chronicler Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015. The Local gives some insight into one of Germany's most vibrant cities. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,709
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd