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German spy agency staffer spied for NSA during gov probe into NSA spying – report

'Veteran techie' allegedly paid €25k for secrets

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A German intelligence agency staffer has been arrested after allegedly being caught spying on behalf on the US, according to reports by German newspapers.

The country's Federal Prosecutor's office has confirmed that a man had been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign spy, but gave no further details.

According to reports in Germany's Spiegel magazine and Bild newspaper, which cited "security sources", the man allegedly gave the NSA information on a German Parliamentary inquiry into spying by the NSA.

According to the Bild, the as-yet-unnamed 31-year-old suspect, who is said to be physically disabled, was arrested last week over allegations he supplied American intelligence agencies with more than 200 secret documents over the last two years or so.

The suspect was allegedly paid €25,000 ($34,100, £20,000) for the information, according to the Bild's sources.

The suspect reportedly confessed that he had gathered information related to an an investigative committee from Germany's lower parliamentary house, the Bundestag, which is currently holding an inquiry into NSA surveillance, Deutsche Welle reports.

The BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – Germany's Federal Intelligence Service) man allegedly had a weather app which appeared innocuous until one searched for the weather in New York, at which point the app allegedly opened an encrypted communication channel.

He is also alleged to have passed on classified information to his US handlers via USB stick and meetings in Vienna, Salzburg and Prague.

The BND employee reportedly only became a suspect three weeks ago after BND counter-espionage agents intercepted an email that had been sent to the Russian embassy. He was arrested and quizzed over his offer to work for the Russians. Under questioning, he admitted he was already working for the Americans, claim sources who spoke to the Bild.

German language reports allege the suspect is a nine-year veteran of the BND who worked in a technical support role.

The case risks inflaming already strained relations between Berlin and Washington. The European country is still in the process of healing from last year's revelations of mass surveillance of German citizens by the NSA, and (more particularly) US snooping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

Curiously, this latest development seems to contradict Germany's assertion in May that it would not pursue charges over the NSA's mass spying. ®

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