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Kremlin gives no comment on spy set free in Germany

According to Vladimir Putin's press secretary, the issue is out of Kremlin's competence
Heidrun and Andreas Anschlag seen in court, July 2013 EPA/MARIJAN MURAT
Heidrun and Andreas Anschlag seen in court, July 2013

MOSCOW, June 4. /TASS/. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday he did not think the Kremlin should comment on the release in Germany of an inmate convicted for espionage for Russia.

"This issue is hardly falling within our competence and our powers," he told reporters. "I don’t think we are the right address for asking these questions," Peskov said, adding that he had for the first time heard about that incident from reporters’ queries. "That is why I cannot say anything," he added.

On Wednesday, German media reported that a man sentenced in Germany to 6.5 years in jail for espionage in the interests of the Russian foreign intelligence service had been released from custody and sent home.

In 2013, the man, Andreas Anschlag, and his wife Heidrun were sentenced to 6.5 and 5.5 years in jail by the Stuttgart court, the federal state of Baden-Wuertemberg.

According to the German law enforcers, Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag acted as intelligence agents of the USSR and then of the Russian Federation. Specifically, they furnished Moscow with hundreds of documents and reports on the EU and NATO’s military and political strategies, with particular accent on Afghanistan, Kosovo and Libya.

The Anschlags’ addressee in Moscow was the state foreign intelligence service SVR.

To transmit their reports to Russia, the couple used satellite communication channels and the Internet sites where they allegedly uploaded encoded messages.

Prosecution claimed Andreas and Heidrun received a remuneration of around €100,000 a year for their activity.

Over the twenty-five or so years of their operations, the couple changed the places of permanent residence four times. The operatives of German secret services detained Heidrun in October 2011 in the couple’s private house in Michelbach and Andreas was arrested later on the same day 75 km away from Stuttgart.

German prosecutors said Andreas arrived in Germany from Mexico in 1988 and Heidrun joined him two years later. At the moment, they had Austrian passports issued in their names in 1984 where the ‘place of birth’ boxes contained the names of Latin American countries.

In 1990, the couple officially got married in Austria. The Germans believe, however, that both spouses are Russians in reality and have Russian names.

German media called the Anschlag spouses trial one of the most spectacular spy cases since the end of the Cold War.