• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Germany frees female Russian spy early

AFP · 22 Nov 2014, 10:49

Published: 22 Nov 2014 10:49 GMT+01:00

The 48-year-old woman, known only by the pseudonym Heidrun Anschlag, was freed two days ago and returned to Russia while her 53 year-old husband, known as Andreas, remains in detention, the DPA news agency and Focus magazine reported.

The man was jailed in July 2013 for six and a half years and his wife for five and a half years by the higher regional court in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.

The pair were planted in former West Germany from 1988 by the Soviet Union's KGB secret service and later worked for its successor the SVR, the court heard.

The couple obtained NATO and EU political and military secrets, focussed especially on the relationship of NATO and the EU with Eastern European and Central Asian countries.

In true Cold War style, documents were left under trees and at other prearranged spots to be picked up by operatives at the Russian consulate general in Bonn, the capital of what was then West Germany.

The pair had posed as Austrian citizens who were born and grew up in South America and were living what prosecutors called a "middle class existence" as a cover for their clandestine activities.

Andreas was ostensibly an ordinary worker in the auto industry, living with housewife Heidrun.

According to Focus, the premature release could have been made as part of an exchange of agents between Russia and Germany.

Shortly after they were handed their prison sentences last year, a report emerged that Moscow wanted to exchange the married couple for at least one convict jailed in Russia on charges of spying for the West.

Story continues below…

Such spy exchanges, familiar from the Cold War era and John le Carre novels, already have a precedent in post-Soviet Russian history.

In 2010, Russia and the United States agreed a sensational spy swap of 10 Russian "sleeper" agents caught in the United States for four men convicted in Russia of spying for the West.

The 10 Russian spies -- including the glamorous female agent Anna Chapman -- were brought back to Moscow and subsequently personally welcomed by Putin.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
File photo: DPA

When a man swimming naked in a Bavarian lake felt a strange pain in his nether regions, he looked up to see a fisherman on the shore. "Don’t pull!" he shouted.

Study finds rival Rhineland beers 'actually taste the same'
Left: Altbier. Right: Kölsch. Or can you even tell? Photos: DPA.

Cologne and Düsseldorf have a long established rivalry, not least over who has the better home brew. So the results of a new study might be more than they can swallow.

Eastern Europe pushes Germany for joint EU army
Angela Merkel (l), Beata Szydlo and Victor Orban. Photo: DPA

Eastern EU countries on Friday pushed for the bloc to create a joint army as they met with Germany for talks on sketching Europe's post-Brexit future.

Merkel’s party mate wants to get rid of all Karl Marx streets
Karl Marx and one of the roadways in Berlin named for him. Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Nicor

Hundreds of streets are named after the founder of communism, but this conservative politician wants to give Marx the boot.

State elections
6 reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Photo: DPA

With state elections around the corner, The Local looks at the poor side of Germany's "poor but sexy" capital city.

Upstarts RB Leipzig plan to go right to top of Bundesliga
RB Leipzig players celebrate scoring against Dynamo Dresden. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig make their Bundesliga debut on Sunday, but the East German outfit, sponsored by energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull, are already far from popular in Germany's top-flight.

Poland criticizes Germany’s 'self-serving' foreign policy
Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: DPA

The Polish foreign minister has said that Germany all too often follows its own interests at the expense of its partners, as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to visit Warsaw.

Vast majority of Germans in favour of burqa ban: poll
Women wearing niqab veils in Saudi Arabia. Photo: DPA.

A survey found that the vast majority of respondents were in favour of Germany passing a ban on the full-body veil sometimes worn by Muslim women.

Czech police detain driver for harassing Merkel's motorcade
Angela Merkel. File photo: DPA

Czech police arrested a man on Thursday for attempting to drive into the motorcade of visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Prague, they said.

Teacher convicted for holding kids back after class
Photo: DPA

A music teacher from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has been found guilty of "holding people against their will" after he made some naughty stay kids back after class.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,614
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd