UK & World News
Germany: 'Spy Pair Got Secrets For Russia'
A married couple accused of spying for the Russian secret services for more than 20 years have gone on trial in Germany, in one of the biggest espionage court cases since the Cold War.
The pair, identified only by codenames Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, were allegedly planted in West Germany from 1988 by the Soviet Union's KGB and later used by its SVR successor secret service.
The Russian defendants, whose alias surname means "attack" in German, declined to confirm any details about their identity or the charges as the trial got under way in Stuttgart.
Prosecutors said one of them arrived in the then-divided Germany in 1988 - a year before the Berlin Wall fell - and the other in 1990, posing as Austrian citizens who had been born and grew up in South America.
They had a mission from SVR to obtain Nato and EU political and military secrets, federal public prosecutor Wolfgang Siegmund said.
He added: "Particularly also geo-strategic findings on the relationship of Nato and the EU with the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia."
Prosecutors said the couple set up a "middle-class existence" to cover up their activity for the secret services. Andreas Anschlag studied engineering and worked in the auto industry while Heidrun was a housewife.
According to reports, even their own daughter had no idea about their double lives.
The couple allegedly passed on documents they obtained from a Dutch official in the foreign ministry between 2008 and 2011.
The court heard the official, Raymond Valentino Poeteray, obtained several hundred pages of classified, partly secret documents from different Dutch embassies and received more than £60,000.
The accused left the documents in "dead-letter boxes", for example under certain trees, from where they were picked up by employees of the Russian consulate general in the western city of Bonn, according to the federal prosecutor.
Heidrun Anschlag was responsible for communicating with the SVR via short-wave radio, the court heard.
The pair, who allegedly were jointly paid around £83,000 a year, communicated with their Moscow masters using text messages via satellite phone or hidden messages in comments in YouTube videos under agreed names, it heard.
In mid-2011, Mr Siegmund said the pair had received orders to withdraw from Germany because of the risk of being exposed and were preparing to do so when they were arrested in October of that year.
Defence lawyer Horst-Dieter Poetschke, who said the defendants had Russian citizenship, claimed the documents in question were "of average quality" and "so, no so-called grave damage occurred" to Germany.
Germany's domestic intelligence services discovered the couple after receiving a tip from the FBI in the United States, which unmasked Russian spies, including Anna Chapman, on its own soil.
The Anschlags face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty and the trial is expected to last until the end of June.