German prosecutors charge Russian scientist with alleged spying

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Technicians work on an Ariane 5 rocket engine northwest of Paris.
Technicians work on an Ariane 5 rocket engine northwest of Paris.   -  Copyright  Christophe Ena/AP, FILE

German prosecutors have charged a Russian scientist for allegedly spying on the country's space technology for Moscow.

The suspect -- identified only as Ilnur N. -- was arrested on suspicion of espionage on June 18 last year.

Prosecutors say the man worked as a research assistant for a science and technology professor at a Bavarian university.

He was allegedly contacted by Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service "no later than autumn 2019" and agreed to spy for them.

The intelligence service, prosecutors said, was particularly interested in the development of the European Ariane rocket, used for space launches.

Ilnur N. is accused of regularly meeting a Germany-based SVR official to pass on information about airspace research products and the various development stages of the Ariane rocket. Prosecutors say the research assistant received a total of €2,500 for passing on the information.

The Russian suspect has denied the allegations.

The charges could further harm relations between Berlin and Moscow amid high tensions over troop movements near Ukraine.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has warned that Russia would face "massive consequences" and sanctions if it invaded Ukraine.