The neighbors had always considered their names odd — Mr and Mrs Anschlag, meaning “attack” — and the fact that she was often seen in the garden of their white-washed, detached, house making telephone calls in the depths of winter, caused tongues to wag.
However, other than that, Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag hardly triggered the curiosity of any but the most avid curtain twitchers in the community of Marburg, Germany, where they lived for years.
That was before their spectacular arrest in October 2011 on suspicion of spying for Moscow, when a Special Forces commando stormed their house. Heidrun was in the middle of receiving encoded messages on shortwave frequency at the time, prosecutors said. She was reported to have been so shocked she fell off her chair, pulling the connection cable with her.
The trial of the couple opened in Stuttgart on Tuesday. The pair are accused of passing confidential documents, procured from a Dutch foreign ministry official, to Russian intelligence services.
Over 23 years they are said to have passed thousands of EU, NATO and UN secrets to the former Soviet Union and then Russia, using “dead letter boxes,” as well as communicating via satellite and the Internet.
According to prosecutors the pair received about 100,000 euros (US$132,950) a year from Moscow. Allegedly they passed on information pertaining to the relationship between the West and countries in eastern Europe and central Asia. The court will hear how the couple built up what prosecutors described as a “bourgeois existence” in Germany at the end of the 1980s and convinced their neighbors that they were Austrian of south American descent — when they were Russian.
Andreas, a car engineer, now 54, worked in various companies, while his wife, now 48, kept house. Even their daughter, a medical student, was said to know nothing of their true existence.
They spoke in court just to confirm their “cover names.” The court does not know their true identity, only that they were known to their spymasters in Moscow as Pit and Tina. Their real first names are believed to be Sasha and Olga.
The couple’s most important source of information is believed to have been the Dutch foreign ministry, where a source handed them information once a month.
The couple are believed to have transmitted some texts via satellite and to have concealed secret messages in commentaries on YouTube where Heidrun communicated with her controller using the name Alpenkuh1 (alpine cow 1).
Heidrun is believed to have received detailed directives from Moscow twice a week, using a shortwave receiver, which was connected to a decoder and computer. While the couple received their messages via radio, they replied via satellite.
Mika Beuster, a local journalist, said the story had “all the ingredients of an exciting spy thriller,” adding: “The neighbors thought nothing strange about them except for their eastern European accent.”
The couple’s lawyer, Horst-Dieter Potschke, told journalists before the trial that the couple hoped to be swapped for German agents working in Russia.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big