Russia ‘considering spy swap with Germany’
July 16, 2013 11 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Russian government has allegedly approached Germany with an offer to swap a number of jailed spies, including a couple of Russian sleeper agents sentenced for espionage earlier this month in Stuttgart. Russia’s Kommersant newspaper alleged on Monday that that the Russian intelligence services are pressing the Kremlin for the repatriation of Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, a married couple who were arrested in Germany in October of 2011. The two were convicted on July 2, 2013, of having spied on Germany since at least 1990 for the Soviet KGB’s First Chief Directorate and its post-Soviet successor organization, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). German federal prosecutors also accuse the couple of document forgery, since their Austrian passports, which they used to enter West Germany from Mexico in 1988 (Andreas) and 1990 (Heidrun) were shown to be counterfeit. In return for the Anschlags, Moscow would be prepared to hand over “at least one spy” convicted in Russia for spying for the West, said Kommersant. Possible candidates would be Andrei Dumenkov, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence for allegedly giving German military intelligence blueprints of Russian missile designs, and Valery Mikhailov, a Russian counterintelligence officer said to be one of the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s “most successful agents [in Russia] in recent years”. Kommersant quoted an unnamed Russian security source, who said that the Kremlin approached Berlin with the offer for an exchange only after the end of the Anschlags’ trial. The reason was that the Russians anticipated that the court proceedings might reveal how the married couple’s cover was blown. Another source told the paper that the Russian intelligence services were determined to “get our guys out of there”. The article says that the Anschlags’ lawyer, Horst-Dieter Petschke, confirms that the negotiations are taking place, and argues that a spy swap between Russia and Germany could “happen at any moment”. However, the same piece quotes Russian government spokesman Dmitri Peskov as saying that no discussion of a possible spy swap has taken place between the Russian and German heads of state.