Sleeper agents planted during Cold War are sentenced in Germany
In a case reminiscent of the Cold War era, a German court near Stuttgart on July 2 sentenced two Russian agents, planted in West Germany during the 1980s and active until their arrest in October 2011.
Andreas Anschlag, 54, and his wife Heidrun, 48, were planted by the KGB in 1988 in what was then West Germany. Their mission was to recruit Western diplomats and defense officials to spy for the Soviet Union.
Accused Russian spies with the aliases Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag appear in court in Stuttgart, Germany. (Their identities were obscured at the request of the court.) Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images Europe
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1992, the couple continued their espionage activities for Russian intelligence. One of their star recruits was the Dutch diplomat Raymond Poeteray who passed classified NATO plans and documents to the Anschlags who then passed them on to Moscow through secret radio and other means.
The unraveling of the Anna Chapman spy ring in New York City revealed the complicated espionage activities of various Russian agents in the West, including those by the Anschlags.
Working on tips from the Americans, Dutch and German counter-intelligence agencies arrested Poeteray in April 2012. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Dutch court a year later.
The Anschlag's were arrested red-handed while they were transmitting secret information to Moscow via a radio set. They were sentenced to six and a half and five and a half years in prison respectively
Moscow has never confirmed the Anschlags as their agents. The state-run Russian news agency RIA-Novosti mocked the trial in Germany.
Despite the fact that the Anschlags claimed they were born in South America and grew up in Austria without any Russian connections in their cover profiles, the fact that the Russian government provided consular assistance to the couple during the trial, provided a not-too-subtle admission to the court's findings.