Image: Jonas Augustin via Unsplash

Germany arrests spies accused of snatching 'special laser' for China

Prosecutors in Britain and Germany announced on Monday the arrests of five people, all domestic nationals, suspected of having worked as Chinese spies. The cases in each country are not believed to be directly related.

In the United Kingdom, Christopher Berry, 32, and Christopher Cash, 29, were charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act on behalf of China. They will appear in court on Friday.

Both were initially arrested last March by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Division (CTD), which is responsible for arrests in official secrets and espionage cases. In a statement released by Cash’s lawyers following his arrest, the defendant said he was “completely innocent.”

Commander Dominic Murphy, the head of the CTD, said: “This has been an extremely complex investigation into what are very serious allegations. We've worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service as our investigation has progressed and this has led to the two men being charged today.

“We're aware there has been a degree of public and media interest in this case, but we would ask others to refrain from any further comment or speculation, so that the criminal justice process can now run its course.”

‘Special lasers’

In Germany, the Federal Prosecutor's Office announced the arrests of three German nationals, named as Herwig F., Ina F., and Thomas R., as per Germany privacy law.

“The accused are strongly suspected of having worked for a Chinese secret service since a point in time that cannot be precisely determined before June 2022,” the prosecutors state.

Among the allegations against the three are that they purchased a “special laser” on behalf of and using funds provided by Chinese intelligence, and then exporting it to China even though the instrument was covered by European Union export controls.

The arrest warrant accuses Thomas R. of having acted as an agent for an unnamed employee of China’s Ministry of State Security, the Communist Party’s security service, who is based in China.

On behalf of his MSS handler, Thomas R. is accused of obtaining information on innovative technologies with military uses, and of recruiting Herwig and Ina F. to help him do so using their company in Düsseldorf.

“The couple concluded a cooperation agreement with a German university for science transfer through their company. The first phase involved preparing a study for a Chinese contractual partner on the state of the art of machine parts that are also important for the operation of powerful ship engines, for example in combat ships,” allege prosecutors.

“Behind the Chinese contractual partner was the MSS employee from whom Thomas R. received his orders; The project was financed by Chinese state authorities. At the time of their arrest, the accused were in further negotiations about research projects that could be useful for expanding China's maritime combat power.”

They will appear on Monday and Tuesday before the Federal Court of Justice where the investigating judge will decide on their pretrial detention.

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin

is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.