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German Court Allows Russian Spy Suspects Brief Reunion

RIA Novosti

22:40 17/01/2013 BERLIN, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – A German-based couple accused of spying for Russia was allowed on Thursday a brief reunion for the first time since their arrest in October 2011, Stuttgart court spokesman Stefan Schueler said.

The meeting took place just before the start of the second session of hearings in the trial of Andreas Anschlag, 54, and his wife Heidrun, 48, who have been accused by German authorities of “secret agent activity” and “forgery of documents.”

Shueler said the court responded to the couple’s appeal made at the start of the trial on Tuesday, and decided to take a “more humane” approach to the suspects, who have been accused of serious crimes and face up to 10 years in prison.

He did not give the details of the meeting but said it was held in the presence of a federal police official.

The trial at the Stuttgart court is expected to continue until June with hearings scheduled every Tuesday and Thursday.

The husband and wife were arrested in different places in Germany in October 2011. In September 2012, they were charged with spying for a foreign intelligence service.

Prosecutors say the Anschlags have been spying in Germany for over 20 years - first at the request of the Soviet Union and later for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

The pair had sold off their belongings and were apparently preparing to flee, German media said at the time. Heidrun was reportedly communicating with her superiors in Moscow via a shortwave radio receiver at the very moment police raided her house, prompting her to fall out of her chair.

The couple arrived in Germany between 1988 and 1990, both sporting Eastern European accents and claiming to having been born in South America and grown up in Austria. They were recruiting, schooling and managing other agents who worked in Germany and neighboring countries, the Berlin newspaper Die Welt reported earlier, adding that they were also passing sensitive information to Moscow on EU and NATO plans collected by agents.

The couple’s most high-profile recruit to be publicly identified was Dutch diplomat Raymond Poeteray, who was detained in April 2012. Poeteray, who denied the accusations, allegedly received 90,000 euro ($115,000) for passing confidential information to Russia.

Prosecutors say the files were delivered via dead letter drops to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow, after which the couple apparently received further commands through an agent radio network.

The German government earlier made an appeal to Russia to exchange the Anschlags for agents who had been working for a news outlet with close ties to Germany. The deal was never struck but it has been speculated the couple might be exchanged after the trial.

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