German prosecutors announced Monday that they had formally charged an employee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s press office for spying on an Egyptian intelligence service.
According to The Associated Press (AP), federal prosecutors said that the German national, identified only as Amin K. for privacy reasons, began working for the visitor service of the federal government press office (BPA), led by spokeswoman Merkel Steffen Seibert, at 1999.
Prosecutors said the suspect, who has family roots in Egypt, started espionage activities in July 2010 on the instructions of the Egyptian embassy in Berlin.
“He used this position since at least July 2010 to support Egyptian General Intelligence Service (GIS) employees in obtaining information,” prosecutors told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The Egyptian-born man has been accused of using his language skills and resources available at BPA to survey and compile reports in the German media, especially on domestic and foreign policy.
Prosecutors said he was also involved in the failed attempt to recruit agents for GIS in 2014 and 2015. In return, the suspect hopes his family in Egypt will receive special treatment from the authorities.
The suspect’s caretaker helped his mother gain pension rights in Egypt, and she was sometimes invited to receptions at the embassy, prosecutors said. He has also been invited to official receptions, such as the farewell of the Egyptian ambassador to Germany in 2019.
The case came to light in July, when it was mentioned in an annual report by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.
At the time, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said that people working in the visitor service did not have access to other databases at the press office, including a database that contains accreditation details for journalists.
“There are indications that the Egyptian service is trying to recruit Egyptians living in Germany for intelligence purposes through their visits to the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Germany and their trips to Egypt,” said a report by the domestic intelligence service published in July.
The man faces up to five years in prison if convicted of being a spy for a foreign intelligence agency.
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