Think-tank boss charged with spying for Beijing

A German political scientist has been charged with spying for China by exploiting high-level official contacts made via his position as the head of a think tank, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

The accused, identified only as Klaus L, is suspected of “regularly passing on information to Chinese intelligence ahead of or after state visits or multinational conferences” between 2010 and 2019.

Klaus L had been running a political think tank since 2001, gaining international importance due to his scientific reputation and networks he had built up, the prosecutors said.

He was approached by members of a Chinese intelligence service during a lecture tour to Shanghai in June 2010, they said.

The suspect obtained information primarily from his numerous high-ranking political contacts, the prosecutors added. He was allegedly paid for the tips.

According to a report by German public broadcaster ARD, Klaus L, 75, led a double life as he had also been working as a spy for the German foreign intelligence services. ARD also said he had previously worked for the Hanns Seidel Foundation, which is close to the CSU, the smaller Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU.

When the case was first reported, the foundation said it had “no knowledge” of the allegations.

Klaus L was arrested at his home on November 23, 2019, the ARD report said, just as he and his wife were on their way to Munich airport. They were due to travel to Macau to meet with Chinese intelligence officers there.

Investigators turned the house upside down, searched the couple’s luggage and seized data sticks and computers.

The fact that Klaus L has only now been charged is a sign of how complex the case is, the ARD report said – he apparently did not deny that he was spying for the Chinese, but claimed the German secret services knew about it.

Klaus L worked for German foreign intelligence services for around 50 years, during which he was paid to supply information.

It is unclear whether the Chinese secret service knew about Klaus L’s connections to the German intelligence services.

After Klaus L retired, he carried on working as the director of a specially founded Institute for Transnational Studies.

The suspect was due to appear before a judge later yesterday.

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