Germany has charged a man with espionage for allegedly passing information on the country”s parliament to Russia.
Federal prosecutors say the suspect, identified only as Jens F., had sent details and floor plans of the Bundestag building to Russian military intelligence.
The individual reportedly worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to carry out checks on laptops and other portable electrical appliances used by the Bundestag.
The suspect allegedly had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved and at some point before early September 2017, “decided of his own accord” to send the information to a Moscow official, according to the Karlsruhe federal prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutors say the files were sent to an employee of the Russian embassy in Berlin who was an officer with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.
Germany’s Bundestag, or lower house of Parliament, is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites.
Charges were filed against the suspect on February 12 at a Berlin court, which will now decide whether to take the case to trial. The suspect is not being held in custody.
Relations between Germany and Russia have become tense in recent years, after a number of diplomatic incidents.
In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU over a large-scale cyberattack against the German parliament and services of Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015.
In 2019, a Georgian member of the Chechen minority was murdered in Berlin in broad daylight by a man suspected of acting on orders from Moscow, something denied by the Kremlin.
Berlin expelled Russian diplomats to protest against Moscow’s lack of cooperation in the investigation. The alleged perpetrator of the murder has been on trial in the German capital since the autumn.
And last year’s poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment, has added another layer of tensions.
Berlin has repeatedly called for the release of the Kremlin critic, who was imprisoned on his return to Russia on 17 January.