Three Germans Arrested in Berlin on Suspicion of Spying for China

German authorities arrest three nationals, including a former Hong Kong Trade Development Council employee, on suspicion of spying for China. An urgent meeting is held with a senior Chinese embassy official to discuss the allegations.

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Nitish Verma
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Three Germans Arrested in Berlin on Suspicion of Spying for China

Three Germans Arrested in Berlin on Suspicion of Spying for China

German authorities have arrested three German nationals in Berlin on suspicion of spying for China, prompting an urgent meeting with a senior Chinese embassy official. Among those arrested is Thomas Reichenbach, a former marketing manager at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Why this matters: The alleged espionage activities highlight the ongoing concerns about China's efforts to gather sensitive information and technology from Western countries, which could have significant implications for global security and economic competition. This incident also underscores the need for increased vigilance andcooperation among governments to prevent and counter such activities.

The other two suspects are a married couple, Herwig F and Ina F. The trio is accused of gathering sensitive industrial data that could potentially expand China's maritime combat power. They allegedly bought a special laser in Germany on behalf of Chinese intelligence services and exported it to China without authorization.

The German Federal Foreign Office invited a senior Chinese embassy official to an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss the allegations. The details and outcome of the meeting have not been disclosed. The investigation is being led by the German federal public prosecutor general.

The Chinese Embassy in Berlin has been contacted for comment on the matter but has not yet provided a response. Thomas Reichenbach had worked as a marketing manager at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council since July 2022, but it is unclear when he stopped working for the organization.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council has confirmed that a former employee is under investigation for alleged personal activity, but the trade promotion body itself is not the subject of the investigation. The three suspects are part of an organization called "Smart City Verein" (Smart City Association).

This development comes as three men, including a public officer working at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, have been charged in the UK with carrying out surveillance against dissidents from Hong Kong. Beijing has denied these allegations, calling them "pure fabrication".

The arrests of the three German nationals on April 22 and the subsequent urgent meeting with the Chinese embassy official highlight the seriousness of the espionage allegations. As the investigation by the German federal public prosecutor general continues, more details may emerge about the specific nature of the sensitive data allegedly gathered and the extent of China's involvement in the matter.

Key Takeaways

  • Three German nationals arrested in Berlin for spying for China.
  • Accused of gathering sensitive industrial data to expand China's maritime power.
  • One suspect, Thomas Reichenbach, is a former marketing manager at Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
  • German authorities held urgent meeting with Chinese embassy official to discuss allegations.
  • Investigation ongoing, with potential implications for global security and economic competition.