German spy who sold secrets to US tried to make deal with Russians

Agent who sold top secret documents was caught offering his services to the Kremlin


The German intelligence "double agent" who allegedly sold hundreds of top secret documents to the Americans was caught by his own country's counter espionage agents while trying to broker an additional spying deal with the Russian secret services, according to intelligence sources in Berlin.

The bizarre twist to Germany's deepening "double agent affair" emerged yesterday after Chancellor Angela Merkel's government summoned the US ambassador to Berlin to "clarify" the second explosive case of suspected American intelligence spying against Germany within the space of a year.

On Friday, Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) intelligence service admitted that one of its agents, an as yet unnamed 31-year-old man "with a limp", had been arrested for supplying American intelligence with at least 300 top secret documents over a period lasting several years.

"The matter is serious," declared a German government spokesman. The disclosure came eight months after German-US relations suffered their worst crisis in decades with the revelation that the US National Security Agency had bugged Chancellor Merkel's mobile phone.

The tapping was carried out from a listening post on the roof of the US embassy in Berlin. GCHQ operates a similar listening post from the roof Britain's embassy in Berlin. German intelligence sources have provided some embarrassing details about the "US mole" who appears to have operated undetected within their ranks for years.

The BND agent, now in German police custody, first established contact with his US spymasters through a simple email he sent to the American embassy which held out the prospect of possible "co-operation". The offer was evidently gladly received. In his role as America's mole within the BND, the agent is thought to have downloaded an estimated 300 secret intelligence documents from the BND's computer system on to USB sticks.

From 2012 until last week, the agent met his US spymasters at secret locations in Austria, where the information was handed over. The agent is said to have received €10,000 (£8,000) per batch of information. The BND has not disclosed what type of material was stolen. However, news of his arrest surfaced during a meeting of a German parliamentary committee which has been investigating the NSA's surveillance and phone-tapping operation.

The double agent's suspected supply of BND information about the workings of the NSA parliamentary committee has raised additional alarm in Germany. "This amounts to an unpardonable attack on parliamentary freedom," protested the Social Democrat parliamentary leader, Thomas Oppermann.

However, the double agent appeared to have been motivated less by ideology than hard cash. German sources revealed yesterday that his activities were only noticed after he tried to widen his information supply portfolio to include the Russians. Three weeks ago BND counter-espionage agents picked up an email that had been sent to the Russian embassy. Like the email to the American embassy, it was said to have offered the possibility of co-operation. "The counter-espionage agents were stunned when they discovered that the source of the email was the BND," reported the German magazine Der Spiegel.

German MPs were yesterday still reeling from the shock of the double agent's unmasking and the alarming realisation that their own domestic intelligence service is not immune to NSA infiltration. "All co-operation between German intelligence and its friendly allies must be thoroughly examined," insisted the Green Party MP Katrin Göring-Eckardt.

There was speculation among some MPs that Germany might "pay back" America by inviting the US whistleblower Edward Snowden to travel from exile in Russia to testify against the NSA before a Berlin parliamentary committee. Chancellor Merkel's government has so far ruled out inviting Mr Snowden for fear of upsetting the White House.

Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game