Three German Citizens Arrested for Spying for China and Exporting Dual-Use Laser

Three German citizens were arrested in Germany on Monday on suspicion of spying for China and illegally transferring information on technology with potential military uses. Prosecutors said the three are accused of having acted for Chinese intelligence since before June 2022 and violating German export laws by exporting a special laser without permission.

One of the suspects, identified only as Thomas R., allegedly acted as an agent for an employee of China’s Ministry of State Security and procured information in Germany on “militarily usable innovative technologies” for that person, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

To do that, prosecutors said, he used Herwig F. and Ina. F, a couple who own a company in Duesseldorf that was used to contact and work with German researchers.

The suspects also procured with MSS funding a special laser and exported it to China without permission, although it was classified as a “dual-use” instrument under European Union rules, prosecutors said.

The homes and offices of the suspects, who were arrested in Duesseldorf and in Bad Homburg, near Frankfurt, were searched.

The arrests come a week after a three-day visit to China by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. German officials wouldn’t be drawn on whether the government was aware of the case at the time but said the trip hadn’t played any role in the timing of the arrests.

In a strategy for relations with China released last year, the German government pointed to a “systemic rivalry” with the Asian power and a need to reduce risks of economic dependency, but highlighted its desire to work with Beijing on challenges such as climate change and maintain strong trade ties.

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