Cleverly under pressure over German spy – Britain battles silent war
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Dr Conrad told Express.co.uk: “Most Western services, as well former Soviet and later Russian services have been exposed time and again to sometimes most serious cases of treason that are cherished as major successes on the respective other side.
“The French would just say “c’est la guerre”, that’s war, and in fact, all of us are aware – or at least should be – that there is a “silent war” between Russian services and their Western counterparts (adversaries) since quite a while.
“In that regard I may only mention the case of Sergey Skripal, both as first-class source of British intelligence and as a prime target for Russian revenge operations in 2018 on British soil. Hence, such things do happen and have to be tackled professionally.”
Amid reports that Carsten. L had been leaking information to the Kremlin from the UK, some had raised question marks about whether this would affect the relationship between the British and German intelligence services.
On this, Dr Conrad said: “In cases like these, services engage very early in confidential communication with their trusted partners in order to cross-check possible intelligence pertinent to the incident, its perpetrators and its operational background as well as to identify and assess the damage done.
“Depending on the complexity of the case, this may take quite some time. In view of the level of mutual confidence in Anglo-German intelligence cooperation, we can be confident that such a process has been initiated by BND at the earliest.
“That’s state of the art and serves the best common interest. It’s as well best practice in such cases to further close ranks, identify and mitigate possible weaknesses in security procedures but also in corporate identity, mutual trust and sense of purpose among staff.
“Treason has always its psychological impact on a service which has to be properly managed.”
Mr Cleverly and the Foreign Office has maintained silence over the matter.
What do we know so far?
Specificities are thin on the ground, but we do know a few broad-brush details of the matter. Dr Conrad said: “What has been publicly acknowledged until now is the mere fact that Carsten L., a member of BND, had passed confidential information to a Russian intelligence service in the course of 2022 and was arrested upon that on treason charges on December 22.
“Leaked though not consistent information has it that Carsten L., reportedly an officer of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in the rank of full colonel seemed to have been a head of division in BND’s SIGINT-directorate.
“The substance matter of the intelligence passed to Russia, its scope and quality, have probably not yet been fully established and analysed, as well as the duration of the cooperation with the Russian service.”
As a result, Dr Conrad says we still have to exercise care in our assessment of this most recent case.
The full details of the leaks may not be known for a substantial period of time.
The Express approached the BND who politely declined to comment.
What the case does serve to do is to highlight the other secret war raging behind and underneath the one on the surface.
As the time of writing Russia has retaken a small slice of Ukrainian territory as UK and Europe debate over whether, or how many, tanks to send to bolster Ukraine’s frontline.
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