• Germany's news in English

Alleged Russian spy couple in 'Cold War' trial

The Local · 15 Jan 2013, 15:58

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

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.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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
Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd