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German ex-soldier found guilty of spying for Russia

On Monday, a German ex-soldier was convicted and sentenced to three and a half years in prison for divulging classified military data to Russia during the Ukrainian conflict. The Duesseldorf court determined that the individual, known as Thomas H., willingly transmitted information from his role in the military procurement service.

Published May 27,2024

A German former soldier was sentenced to three and a half years in jail on Monday for sharing secret military information with Russia in the wake of the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

A court in Duesseldorf found the defendant, named only as Thomas H., guilty of passing on information on his own initiative from his post in the military procurement service.

The 54-year-old had admitted the crime during his trial, claiming he was hoping to obtain information in return that would help him get his family to safety in time in the event of the conflict escalating into a nuclear war.

The espionage case is one of several uncovered in Germany since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Prosecutors had accused Thomas H. of photographing old training documents related to munitions systems and aircraft technology and dropping the material through the letterbox of the Russian consulate in Bonn.

The defendant "approached the Russian general consulate in Bonn and the Russian embassy in Berlin and offered his cooperation" in May 2023, prosecutors said.

"He passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for it to be passed on to a Russian intelligence service."

Thomas H. admitted at the opening of his trial in April that the accusations against him were "broadly" accurate.

"It was wrong. I stand by that," he said.

Thomas H. said his concern about a possible escalation in the war in Ukraine led him to reach out to the Russian side.

More precisely, he was worried about the possibility that deliveries of heavy weapons systems by Berlin to Ukraine would draw Germany into the conflict.

The former soldier's aim was to obtain information before a possible nuclear escalation in the conflict in order to bring his family to safety in time, he said.

The apocalyptic concern was the reason he landed on the "stupid idea" to reach out to Russian authorities.