BERLIN (Reuters) – Police have raided houses and offices in Brussels and throughout Germany in a case involving three people suspected of spying for China, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Der Spiegel magazine, which first reported on the raids, said one of the three suspects was a German citizen who until 2017 had worked as a senior diplomat for the European Union’s foreign service, including several seasons as ambassador for The EU.
The case is the first in recent years that involves specific accusations of espionage from China against Germany and the EU. It is produced amid growing concern throughout Europe and the West in general over China’s increase in its global espionage activity as it develops political influence to match its economic weight.
Germany and other European countries are pressured by Washington to exclude China’s state telecommunications equipment manufacturer, Huawei, from tenders to build fifth-generation mobile phone networks.
“I can confirm that we are conducting an investigation into the activity of the intelligence agent,” said Markus Schmitt, a spokesman for German federal prosecutors. None of the suspects had been arrested, he said.
Raids were conducted in Brussels, Berlin and the two southern states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria, the main centers of Germany’s advanced manufacturing industries.
Der Spiegel reported that the former diplomat had held a series of senior positions in the EU’s foreign service. Upon leaving the EU civil service, he had established himself as a lobbyist, the magazine reported.
It is also believed that he visited China in the company of his manager. Prosecutors refused to confirm the identity or professions of the three suspects.
Thomas Escritt Report; Edition by Peter Graff