German Authorities Arrest 3 Alleged Chinese Spies for Providing Military Technology Information

German authorities arrest 3 citizens for spying for China, exporting sensitive tech. Highlights growing concerns over Chinese espionage targeting European businesses and research.

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Wojciech Zylm
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German Authorities Arrest 3 Alleged Chinese Spies for Providing Military Technology Information

German Authorities Arrest 3 Alleged Chinese Spies for Providing Military Technology Information

German authorities have arrested three German citizens suspected of spying for China and facilitating the transfer of information on technology with potential military uses. The suspects, identified as Thomas R., Herwig F., and Ina F., are accused of acting for Chinese intelligence since before June 2022. They are also suspected of violating German export laws by exporting a specialized laser without permission.

The arrests occurred in Düsseldorf and Bad Homburg, shortly after Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit to China. However, German officials said the trip did not play a role in the timing of the arrests. "The arrests are a great success for our counterespionage," said German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who has warned about the significant danger from Chinese espionage in business, industry, and science.

The suspects are accused of procuring information on "militarily usable innovative technologies" for a Chinese intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), and establishing a research transfer agreement with a German university to study technology for powerful ship engines, including those used in battleships. They also allegedly procured a specialized laser with MSS funding and exported it to China without permission.

Herwig F. and Ina F., a married couple who own a company in Düsseldorf, allegedly negotiated a deal with a German university to provide research information on combat vessel technology to a Chinese organization, in violation of German law. Thomas R. is an employee of China's MSS who obtained the information in Germany.

The arrests are the second case of arrests in Germany over alleged spying within the last week, with two men arrested in Bayreuth on suspicion of spying for Russia and potentially plotting to sabotage aid to Ukraine and blow up military infrastructure in Germany. The arrests highlight the increasing scrutiny and crackdown on alleged Chinese espionage efforts in Europe.

Why this matters: The arrests underscore growing concerns in Europe over Chinese espionage activities targeting businesses, industry, and science. The case also highlights the potential risks of technology transfer and research collaboration with China, particularly in areas with military applications.

German prosecutors allege that the Chinese contractual partner in the research agreement was actually an MSS employee who was financing the project. "The suspects were in further negotiations on research projects that could be useful for expanding China's maritime combat power at the time of their arrest," prosecutors said. The German government has pointed to a <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/3-germans-arrested-suspicion-spying-china-transferring-info-109486467

Key Takeaways

  • 3 German citizens arrested for spying for China, exporting tech
  • Suspects accused of procuring military-use tech for Chinese intel
  • Arrests occurred after Chancellor Scholz's visit to China
  • Suspects negotiated research deal to transfer combat vessel tech
  • Arrests highlight crackdown on alleged Chinese espionage in Europe