A former German intelligence operative accused of treason has gone on trial. Markus Reichel is accused of selling secrets from German intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) to the US and Russia. As his court trial opened earlier this week in Munich, Reichel confessed to passing secrets to the Central Intelligence Agency for over six years.
He received €95,000 from the CIA
Reichel told the court that he started working for the CIA and Russia because he felt he was undervalued at BND. A desire for greater recognition motivated him. “With the CIA it was different. There you could prove yourself,” he said. Reichel was arrested last year. His arrest strained the Germany-US relations as Angela Merkel government kicked out the then CIA station chief in Berlin.
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The prosecution alleged that Reichel passed scores of classified documents and internal communications to the CIA between 2008 and 2014. He had joined BND in 2007. The supplied documents included lists of German spies working abroad and their aliases. The US intelligence agency is believed to have paid him €95,000 ($102,000) over a period of six years. Reichel is also accused of selling three secret documents to Russia at the country’s Munich consulate.
He was identified by the German counter-intelligence
The German counter-intelligence team identified him after intercepting an email he had sent to Russian intelligence services. Then the BND sought the Americans’ help to conduct further investigation, but it was shocked when the US intelligence refused to cooperate. Soon after his arrest, 32-year old Reichel confessed that he had been passing secrets to the CIA since 2008.
According to the Telegraph, Reichel is partially disabled, suffering from poor coordination, shaking hands, and a speech impediment. At BND, he served in a junior position in the mail room at an annual salary of less than 15,000 euros. Working in the mail room, he had access to classified information that he sold to the US and Russia. If convicted, Reichel could face life imprisonment.