Russia ‘considering spy swap with Germany’

Andreas and Heidrun AnschlagBy 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”.   Read more of this post

Closed-door trial of Soviet/Russian sleeper agents starts in Germany

The Anschlags' house in MeckenheimBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A married couple accused of spying on Germany on behalf of the Soviet Union and Russia for over two decades has gone on trial in Stuttgart. Andreas Anschlag, 54, and his wife, Heidrun, 48, were arrested in October 2011 by GSG-9, the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police. They were later charged with having spied since at least 1990 for the Soviet KGB’s First Chief Directorate and its post-Soviet successor organization, the 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) are believed to be counterfeit. There is also speculation that the couple’s surname may in fact be an alias given to them by their intelligence handlers. Upon entering West Germany in 1988 and 1990, the Anschlags initially settled in Aachen, on the German-Belgian border, before moving to Meckenheim, a small town with a population of less than 30,000 located a few miles southwest of Bonn. They concentrated on blending into German society, while raising their son daughter and leading what their neighbors describe as a “discreet life”. Over the years, they managed to recruit a number of informants, including a Dutch diplomat identified by authorities in Holland only as ‘Raymond P’. The diplomat, who was arrested last June, is believed to have given the Anschlags nearly 500 classified documents originating from the German armed forces, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #800

MI6 headquartersBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►British MI6 spy agency feeling shaken not stirred. Analysis on Salon.com about the current state of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, featuring comments by intelNews‘ own Joseph Fitsanakis. The article, written by former CNN and BBC correspondent Barry Neild, argues that MI6 is feeling the heat caused by a series of recent allegations which threaten to disrupt its clandestine operations. The agency, he suggests, is thus undergoing one of the most troubling periods of its hundred-year existence.
►►Germany charges couple with spying for Russia. German government prosecutors say the couple, who called themselves Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, worked in Germany for Russia’s foreign intelligence service for more than 20 years, gathering information on European Union and NATO strategy. The pair entered Germany in 1988 and 1990, claiming to be Austrian citizens of South American origin. They were arrested in October 2011. German media said it is the first such case in Germany since the end of the Cold War.
►►US allegedly widens covert operations in North Africa. The Associated Press quotes “three US counterterror[ism] officials and a former intelligence official” as saying that the United States is in the process of building “a new military task force” in the North African region. But by the time the US consulate in the east Libyan city of Benghazi was attacked last month, the new task force consisted only of “liaison officers who were assigned to establish relationships with local governments and US officials in the region”.

Dutch diplomat arrested for spying for Russia

Anna ChapmanBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in Holland have arrested a Dutch diplomat who is said to have worked for the same Russian intelligence unit that handled a group of Russian sleeper agents captured in the United States in 2010. The 60-year-old diplomat, who has been publicly identified only as Raymond P., was arrested over the weekend in The Hague following an extensive investigation by German counterintelligence. According to German newsmagazine Focus, which first aired the story on Saturday, the diplomat is believed to have given nearly 500 classified documents to Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, two Russian intelligence officers operating in Germany. The Anschlags, who are married to each other, and are believed to be Mexican-born, were arrested in October of 2011 in the university town of Marburg in central Germany. They are thought to have moved to Germany from Mexico in 1990, using false Austrian passports supplied to them by the SVR, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. At the time of the Anschlags’ arrest, Russian media claimed that the couple had “effectively retired” from the SVR several years ago and were being utilized mostly as message couriers. It now appears that Raymond P. was one of their informants, and that the three operated as part of the same espionage ring in Germany. Interestingly, the Anschlags were also said to be in frequent contact with Russian intelligence agent Anna Chapman (pictured), who was arrested by the FBI in the US in 2010. Chapman was part of a group of 11 Russian sleeper agents who were arrested on the same day by the FBI, and were later expelled to Russia. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #622

SVR seal

SVR seal

►►Russian spies in Germany focused on politics and military. A married couple arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia is believed to have been gathering information on political developments and military affairs, according to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. The two have been identified as Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag. German prosecutors accuse them of spying for SVR, the successor to the KGB’s First Chief Directorate.
►►Israel releases spy who gave information to Iran. Israel has released Nahum Manbar, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1997, after he was convicted of harming state security and selling information and supplies to create chemical weapons to Iran. Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein approved the early release of Manbar on Monday, one and a half years before the end of his sentence. This was the third time Manbar had requested to be released early.
►►FBI releases Russian illegals’ photos and videos. Documents released Monday, including photos, videos and papers, offered new details about the FBI’s decade-long investigation into a ring of Russian sleeper agents who, US officials say, were trying to burrow their way into American society to learn secrets from people in power. The investigation was apparently code-named Operation GHOST STORIES because six of the 10 Russian agents had assumed the identities of dead people. If you are wondering what these spies are doing now, read this informative update from the Associated Press.

Alleged Russian spies in Germany used low-tech methods to evade detection

Anna Chapman

Anna Chapman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A couple arrested in Germany last week on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence, was using low-tech radio communications to receive orders from Moscow, according to media reports. The two arrestees have been identified as Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag; German prosecutors accuse them of spying for SVR, the successor to the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (PGU), responsible for foreign operations and intelligence collection abroad. They are said to have worked as non-official-cover operatives for the KGB and SVR since at least 1990, when they entered Germany from Mexico, using forged Austrian travel documents. Authorities in Germany say that Heidrun Anschlag, 51, was caught by German police in the act of listening to encrypted radio messages from Moscow. German investigators are reportedly puzzled by the fact that, in the Internet age, when most intelligence operatives employ digital secure communications, the Anschlags insisted on using a low-tech method that mostly died with the end of the Cold War. But intelNews readers will remember the case of former United States State Department analysts Walter and Gwendolyn Myers, who were arrested in 2009 for spying on the US for Cuba for over 30 years. Shortly after the Myers’ arrest, we wrote that the couple appeared to have avoided capture for decades, precisely because their communications with the government of Cuba were too low-tech to be detected by sophisticated US monitors. The latter tend to focus on scanning for encrypted satellite or microwave communications which —among other hi-tech means— are now the communication method of choice for modern clandestine spy networks. But some intelligence agencies, including —apparently— the SVR, appear to insist on using old-school oral cipher signals, based on straightforward number-to-letter codes, which they broadcast to their agents over predetermined shortwave frequencies at specified times. Read more of this post