Germany wants foreign embassies to declare their spy employees

German Foreign OfficeBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
German authorities have asked that foreign embassies and consulates on German soil officially disclose the names of their personnel involved in intelligence work. German newsmagazine Der Spiegel said that the German Foreign Office has been systematically contacting consular authorities from every foreign nation located in Germany. In each case, the foreign consular representatives have been issued formal requests to release “through official diplomatic channels” an exhaustive list of names of their intelligence operatives operating in Germany under diplomatic cover. All foreign embassies and consulates had been contacted by last Wednesday, said the report. The requests stipulate that the lists must include all personnel working out of a foreign nation’s embassy or consulate, as well cultural institutes, military installations, commercial entities, or other institutions associated with a foreign country. It is generally assumed that a significant number of employees in embassies and consulates are intelligence personnel, working under diplomatic cover; they invariably hold titles such as “military attaché”, or “political officer”, and are generally protected with diplomatic immunity. A small number of these intelligence officers voluntarily make their presence known to the corresponding intelligence agency of their host country, and are thus officially declared and accredited with the government of the host nation. They typically act as points-of-contact between the embassy and the intelligence agency of the host nation on issues of common concern requiring cross-country collaboration or coordination. But the vast majority of intelligence personnel stationed at a foreign embassy or consulate operate without the official knowledge or consent of the host country. Governments generally accept this as a tacit rule in international intelligence work, which is why Berlin’s move is seen as highly unusual. Der Spiegel described it as an effort “towards more transparency”, aimed at “increasing the pressure on foreign intelligence services to disclose their activities in Germany”. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, described the move as a diplomatic effort to establish trust between Berlin and its foreign partners. Read more of this post

Lebanon releases German suspected of spying for Israel

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Bekaa Valley

German officials have confirmed reports from Lebanon that a German citizen has been released after being questioned in connection with Israeli espionage activity in eastern Lebanon. Manfred Peter Mog, 58, who has lived in Lebanon since 1999, was detained on Monday by Lebanese counterintelligence officers, who suspected him of sharing “sensitive information” with Israeli intelligence operatives. It is believed that Mr. Mog, an engineer who has worked since 2009 at the Liban Lait dairy factory in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, was questioned in connection to “sophisticated transmitters” found in his possession. But the German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday firmly denied that the German citizen had had any charges brought against him by the Lebanese government. Soon afterwards, unnamed Lebanese officials confirmed that Mr. Mog had indeed been released without charges, following intense questioning by counterintelligence officers. It is worth noting that there have recently been several intelligence stories linking Israel and Germany. Read more of this post

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