Confessed Russian spy in German military sentenced to 3.5 years

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Confessed Russian spy in German military sentenced to 3.5 years

A 54-year-old German army officer who confessed to spying for Russia has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison by a court in Dusseldorf.

The man, a captain, had acknowledged betraying sensitive military information to the Russian secret services. He also joined the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party around the same time he offered himself up to Russian intelligence.

Prosecutors accused him of serving as an agent for a hostile, ruthlessly aggressive foreign power.

German police officers arrested the man in Koblenz on August 9, and he has been held in custody since then. The incident was one of several Russian spy scandals that have rocked Germany in recent months and heightened concerns about security in the country.

He faced a shorter prison sentence because the information he offered to the Russians was classified as official secrets. If he had also betrayed more sensitive state secrets, he could have faced more severe punishments up to a life sentence.

The captain had claimed that he was driven by fear of a nuclear escalation during Russia's invasion of Ukraine. His defence lawyer argued that he began consuming fake news, propaganda and conspiracies on the social media platforms Telegram and TikTok during a difficult stretch of professional work.

"It's the biggest cock-up I've ever made in my life," the defendant said in a closing statement to the court. He said that depression caused by chronic overwork had impaired his rational thinking.

His defence lawyer said that the decision came during a four-day period in which he destroyed everything he had built over a years-long career as a professional soldier: "Four days of betrayal in which he crossed red lines. Four days of complete failure."

At times, he was far removed from reality, his defence lawyer said. He also noted that the man has since quit the AfD party.


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