If you’ve ever been curious who listens to and acts upon the coded messages we hear in numbers stations (a.k.a. spy numbers stations), follow this German-based couple who are being accused of spying on NATO and and the EU:
A spectacular trial at a Stuttgart court is about to begin, involving a German-based couple accused of spying on NATO and the EU for decades on Russia’s behalf. Neighbors say they knew something was fishy.
It reads like a John le Carre novel: “dead mail boxes,” secret radio signals, encrypted messages hidden in plain sight on the Internet.
According to accusations, a married couple has been spying in Germany for more than 20 years – first at the behest of the Soviet Union and thereafter for its post-Soviet incarnation, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
On Tuesday (15.01.2013) 54-year-old Andreas Anschlag and his 48-year-old wife, Heidrun, will stand trial in Stuttgart. Federal prosecutors accuse them of “secret agent activity” and of “forgery of documents.”
[…]The history of the purported agent couple begins at a time when the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War was still cold. According to accusations, Andreas Anschlag traveled to West Germany in 1988 with the help of a forged Austrian passport. His wife did the same in 1990. Both were supposed to have been born in South America. The two settled in Aachen, close to the western border with Belgium, where Mr. Anschlag studied mechanical engineering.
[…]The files were delivered via “dead mail boxes,” according to official charges, to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow. The couple apparently received further commands through an agent radio network and sent their own messages via satellite and through an internet video platform.
When they were arrested in October 2011, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the woman was sitting in front of a shortwave receiver, writing down secret messages. At that point the pair was living in a house in Michelbach, a small community in the German state of Hesse.
“Suddenly we had this spy thriller taking place right outside our window – it was better than the movies,” one of the neighbors told DW.
Note that this story reads much like the Russian couple who spied on the US a few years ago.