BERLIN – Germany last year expelled a spy who was working under diplomatic cover at Russia’s consulate in Munich, Der Spiegel newsmagazine reported on Friday.
It said the accredited diplomat was an officer of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) who was acting as handling agent for the Russian academic whose arrest on spying charges was announced on Thursday.
Der Spiegel said the expulsion took place shortly after the summer 2021 detention of Ilnur N., an Augsburg University researcher whom prosecutors suspect of having passed information about Europe’s Ariane space launch vehicle to the SVR.
N., whose full name has not been made public as is usual in German court cases, has been in custody since. Espionage charges were bought against him in December.
The handling officer who was expelled could not be investigated because he had diplomatic immunity, according to Der Spiegel.
The Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.
Germany kicked out two Russian diplomats in December after a court found that the Russian state had ordered the 2019 murder in a Berlin park of a Chechen dissident, an act the judge described as “state terror.”
Russia has more than 100 accredited diplomats in Germany.