Germany charges agent who spied for US with treason

Germany charges agent who spied for US with treason
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Germany is charging one of its own intelligence agents with treason for covertly passing secret information to both the CIA and Russian agents.

Charges against the 32-year-old former agent with the BND intelligence service — who is being identified only as Markus R., due to German privacy law — come more than a year after his arrest last July, which at the time marked a new low in U.S.-German relations.

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Last year’s arrest came after outrage from Germany in response to news that the National Security Agency (NSA) had secretly spied on its leaders — including Chancellor Angela Merkel — and threatened to fracture the intelligence cooperation between the two nations.

According to the German prosecutor’s office, Markus R. was hired by the BND in 2007 and quickly began to hand classified information to the CIA in exchange for “financial rewards” totaling at least €95,000  — or $107,000 — from 2008 until his arrest last summer.

In 2014, he also sent three secret documents to Russia’s secret service, the prosecutor's office claimed.

In doing so, he “caused the risk of serious danger for the external security of the Federal Republic of Germany,” the office added.

He was charged on Aug. 11 with two counts of treason, revealing official secrets and corruption, the office announced on Thursday.

According to reports, Markus. R could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

His arrest last summer came as tensions mounted for the U.S. and Germany, which was still reeling from the damage caused by Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the NSA.

In response, Germany asked the CIA’s Berlin station chief to leave the country.

Despite the hot rhetoric a year ago, relations between Berlin and Washington have largely calmed of late, due to commitments made by the Obama administration to reel back its spying against friendly foreign leaders and in the face of more pressing international challenges, from the Iranian nuclear agreement to Russian encroachment in Ukraine.

The CIA declined to comment on the charges on Friday.