Former German soldier jailed for spying for Russia | Politics News


Duesseldorf court sentences ex-soldier to three and a half years in jail for sharing secret military information with Russia.

A former German soldier has been sentenced to three and a half years in jail for sharing secret military information with Russia in the wake of the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

A court in Duesseldorf had found the defendant, named only as Thomas H, guilty of passing on information on his initiative from his post in the military procurement service.

In handing the sentence on Monday, judges noted that Thomas had no prior offences on his record, had not benefitted materially from helping Russia and was in poor health at the time he did so.

The 54-year-old had admitted the crime during his trial, claiming he was hoping to obtain information in return that would help him get his family to safety in time in the event of the conflict escalating into a nuclear war.

The espionage case is one of several uncovered in Germany since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Prosecutors had accused Thomas of photographing old training documents related to munitions systems and aircraft technology and dropping the material through the letterbox of the Russian consulate in Bonn.

The defendant “approached the Russian general consulate in Bonn and the Russian embassy in Berlin and offered his cooperation” in May 2023, prosecutors said.

“He passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for it to be passed on to a Russian intelligence service.”

‘Stupid idea’

Thomas admitted at the opening of his trial in April that the accusations against him were “broadly” accurate. “It was wrong. I stand by that,” he said.

He said his concern about a possible escalation in the war in Ukraine led him to reach out to the Russian side.

More precisely, he was worried about the possibility that deliveries of heavy weapons systems by Berlin to Ukraine would draw Germany into the conflict.

Thomas also indicated he had become dissatisfied with the government and a perceived lack of concern for the safety of German citizens.

He cited complaints over his health after many hard years working for the army and long-term side effects from the coronavirus vaccine.

His various worries led him into a “vicious circle”, he said, adding that he could no longer justify his actions to himself.

Until his arrest in August 2023, Thomas had been a career soldier, working at the army’s equipment, information technology and in-service support department.

The department, which has about 12,000 employees, has seen its workload increase substantially since the outbreak of the Ukraine war as the government stages a wide-ranging overhaul of the army after years of neglect.

Germany has been on high alert for Russian spies against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and soaring tensions between Moscow and the West.

In April, German authorities arrested two German-Russian dual nationals on suspicions that they were plotting sabotage attacks on the United States military sites in the country to undermine Western military support for Ukraine.

Russian authorities for their part have levelled treason charges against dozens of people accused of aiding Ukraine and the West since the invasion.

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