Two Germans on trial for high treason are alleged to have passed information to Moscow that showed Berlin had access to messages exchanged by mercenary group Wagner, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Thursday.
The pair, referred to only as Carsten L. and Arthur E., are accused by prosecutors of working together with a Russian businessman to “procure sensitive information” from Germany’s BND foreign intelligence and relay it to Russia’s FSB.
Part of the leaked information is said to have related to the activities of the Wagner paramilitary group, a link first reported by German weekly Spiegel.
According to the magazine, the BND had access to a messaging app used by the group led by warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, which has fought alongside Russia’s regular troops in Ukraine.
“The Wagner communications were hacked,” Johannes Eisenberg, the lawyer representing Carsten L., told the court, complaining that the full accusations had not been made public.
Due to the sensitivity of the trial, proceedings are being held under tight security and a portion of the charge sheet has been kept secret.
The retention of key documentary evidence by the court made a defence almost impossible, said Eisenberg, whose client denies the charges.
Carsten L., an employee of the BND, is accused of passing documents from the agency to Arthur E., who is said to have turned them over to the FSB.
Arthur E. had been cooperating with authorities on the case, his lawyer Giuseppe Olivo told the court.
“He has made a significant contribution to the investigation and should hope for a reduced sentence,” Olivo said.
The accused face charges of high treason and if found guilty, could be jailed for life.