In its latest edition, published on Saturday, Der Spiegel provides “the story behind Germany’s embarrassing leak,” the dw.com/pl website has reported.
Russian oligarch, German businessman and BND agent
The cast of characters includes Visa M., a Russian oligarch; Arthur E., a German businessman in the diamond trade; and “a friendly, heavyset man named Carsten L.,” a BND agent, according to Der Spiegel.
It all started in May 2021, at a cosy party in the Bavarian town of Weilheim, the magazine wrote.
Arthur E. and his friend Carsten L. both attended the gathering. The businessman would later tell investigators that “Carsten L. had a fair amount to drink that night and began gloating about working for the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency,” Der Spiegel reported.
Half a year earlier, at Moscow’s glamorous Ritz-Carlton hotel, Arthur E. had met the oligarch Visa M., who was “thought to have excellent connections to senior Russian politicians,” the magazine added.
“It seems likely that this was the moment when Arthur E. saw an opportunity to earn a pile of money,” Der Spiegel wrote.
Germany’s 'biggest spying scandal in recent decades’
What happened following the party in Weilheim, represents “the biggest spying scandal in recent years, perhaps even in recent decades,” dw.com/pl reported, citing Der Spiegel.
The German magazine wrote on Saturday: “The upshot of the affair are suspicions that BND agent Carsten L. may well have committed high treason by pilfering important BND documents related to the war in Ukraine and delivering them to Arthur E.”
Although “nothing has yet been proven, no charges have been filed and the presumption of innocence remains in effect,” there are “hardly any doubts” that “Carsten L. was used as a spy,” according to Der Spiegel.
According to information obtained by the magazine, “Arthur E. is thought to have delivered the information [from Carsten L.] to the FSB, the Russian domestic intelligence agency.”
“Visa M., the man Arthur E. met in the Ritz-Carlton, is thought to have connected Arthur E. with the FSB,” Der Spiegel said.
‘Information ended up in Moscow’
The German magazine reported that “the case has rocked the BND, besmirching its reputation as a partner to other Western intelligence agencies – at a time when Russia is waging war against Ukraine.”
The fact that “BND information ended up in Moscow” is “a worst-case scenario and extremely embarrassing for the Germans,” Der Spiegel wrote.
It added that the BND was already feeling the effects of the scandal.
The magazine said: “Even as heads of other agencies officially insist that they continue working with the Germans just as cooperatively as ever, agents lower down the chain of command say they have noticed a significant reticence from Germany’s NATO allies.”
According to Der Spiegel, “For a time, at least, the governments of the United States, Britain and other countries curtailed intelligence-sharing with Berlin.”
Monday is day 383 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: dw.com/pl, spiegel.de