Germany have charged a CIA officer with treason after it emerged that the German intelligence officer was acting a as a double agent, spying on Germany on behalf of the United States.
The unidentified 32-year-old, nicknamed ‘Markus R.’ worked at Germany’s intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), but was arrested last July for spying on behalf of the CIA for two years.
German prosecutors say they have evidence that shows Markus R. supplied the American spy agency with around 200 classified German government documents in exchange for around €25,000 —approximately $30,000.
Germany’s Office of the Federal Prosecutor said on Thursday that Markus R. made contact with the CIA in 2008 and offered his services to the American spy agency. He began working for the United States as a double agent soon afterwards. His arrest last year added to the already tense relations between Berlin and Washington.
The latter had been damaged a year earlier, when it was revealed that the US National Security Agency, America’s signals intelligence organization, had bugged the personal cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The revelation, which was made public by Edward Snowden, an American defector to Russia who had previously worked for the NSA, showed that Chancellor Merkel had been targeted as part of a wider US spy operation against Germany.
The revelations sparked the establishment in Germany of a nine-member parliamentary committee that was tasked with evaluating Snowden’s revelations and proposing Germany’s response.
It appears that Markus R. tried to spy on the activities of the committee on behalf of his American handlers. Soon after Markus R.’s arrest was made public, the German government ordered the immediate removal from Germany of the CIA chief of station –who was essentially the top American intelligence official in the country.
Berlin also instructed its intelligence agencies to limit their cooperation with their American counterparts “to the bare essentials” until further notice.
It is worth noting that, before his arrest last year, Markus R. is also said to have approached Russian intelligence with an offer to work for them. He is thus believed to have supplied Moscow with classified German government documents as well.