Germany charges press office worker with spying for Egypt

International

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors say they have formally charged an employee of the government’s press office with spying for an Egyptian intelligence service.

Federal prosecutors said Monday that the man, identified only as Amin K. for privacy reasons, had used his position in the press office’s visitor service to obtain information for Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, or GIS.

Prosecutors said the suspect, a German citizen with family roots in Egypt, took up his espionage activity from July 2010 on instructions from the Egyptian embassy in Berlin.

He is accused of compiling reports on Germany’s domestic and foreign policy relating Egypt, including through the use of research tools available to him at press office. Prosecutors say he was also involved in an unsuccessful attempt to recruit agents for the GIS in 2014 and 2015.

In exchange, the suspect hoped that his family in Egypt would receive special treatment from authorities there. Prosecutors said his handler helped the suspect’s mother obtain pension rights in Egypt, and he was occasionally invited to receptions at the embassy.

The case came to light in July, when it was mentioned in an annual report by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

At the time, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said that people who work at the visitor service didn’t have access to other databases at the press office, including those that contain reporters’ accreditation details.

The man faces up to five years imprisonment if he’s convicted of spying for a foreign intelligence agency.

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