Germany Arrests Three People Suspected of Spying for China

German and a Chinese flag are seen flying in the wind from the Chancellery, as the dome of the Reichstag building, which houses the German lower house of Parliament, can be seen in the background, in Berlin on June 19, 2023, during a visit of China's Premier to Germany. Credit - JOHN MACDOUGALL—AFP/Getty Images

Three German citizens were arrested on Monday after Germany’s federal prosecutor alleged they were involved in transferring research on technologically advanced machine parts for ship engines to China’s secret service.

The suspects, whose names were listed as Herwig F., Ina F., and Thomas R., due to German privacy laws, were arrested in the German cities Düsseldorf and Bad Homburg under suspicion of having worked for the Chinese secret service.

Herwig F. and Ina F. are a married couple who own an unspecified company in Düsseldorf that enabled them to contact various German researchers. Thomas R. is an employee of China’s Ministry of State Security, according to the statement released by the German federal prosecutor.

“Thomas R. obtained information in Germany on innovative technologies that could be used for military purposes,” the statement said. “To do this, he made use of the couple Herwig F. and Ina F., who run a company from Düsseldorf. [Their company] served as a medium for contacting and collaborating with people from German science and research.”

The couple is believed to have arranged a deal with a German university on behalf of a Chinese organization to provide research information on combat vessel technology in violation of the German Foreign Trade and Payments Act. They are also alleged to have purchased a laser used for military purposes on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security without authorization.

The arrests come a week after Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited China to press Beijing over intellectual property theft and a slate of other issues.

This is also the second case of arrests in Germany over alleged spying within the last week. On Thursday, two men were arrested in the German city of Bayreuth and were alleged to have been spying for Russia.

Prosecutors say that the two men are suspected of trying to sabotage aid to Ukraine and may have been plotting to blow up unspecified military infrastructure located in Germany.

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