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The European Parliament. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

German aide suspected of spying for China

April 23, 2024

By Chris Stern, Stephanie Halasz and Rob Picheta, CNN

(CNN) — German authorities have arrested an aide to a high-ranking, far-right member of the European Parliament on suspicion of spying for China, the latest in a number of arrests in Europe linked to alleged Chinese espionage.

German national Jian G, who worked for AfD MEP Maximilian Krah, was arrested by Saxony State criminal police in Dresden and had his residences searched, the prosecutor’s office said early Tuesday. German authorities routinely identify suspects by their first name and first initial of their family name.

The aide was later suspended by the European Parliament, a spokesman for the body told CNN.

Prosecutors said he passed on information about “negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament” to China in January. The head of Krah’s office confirmed to CNN that the aide had been arrested in Dresden.

His arrest comes days after two men and a woman were arrested elsewhere in Germany for allegedly spying for China, and after two men in the UK were charged for allegedly breaching Britain’s Officials Secrets Act.

“Jian G. is an employee of a Chinese secret service. He has been working for a German Member of the European Parliament since 2019,” the prosecutor’s office statement said.

“In January 2024, the accused repeatedly passed on information about negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament to his intelligence service client. He also spied on Chinese opposition members in Germany for the intelligence service,” it added.

German media quickly identified Krah as the lawmaker who employed the suspect. The 47-year-old sits on the chamber’s Committee on International Trade, as well as its subcommittees on human rights and on Security and Defence. He is also part of the parliament’s delegation for relations with the United States.

The far-right AfD party has nine seats in the European Parliament, and is competing alongside Germany’s traditional parties in the European elections in June. Krah is the party’s top candidate in those elections.

Germany’s interior minister Nancy Faeser said on Tuesday that if the allegations against Jian G are true, it would represent an “attack from within on European democracy.”

She also criticized the AfD lawmaker for the saga, alleging that “whoever employs such a person is responsible.”

On Monday, three German nationals were arrested on suspicion of violating the Foreign Trade and Payments Act on behalf of China. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said the homes and workplace of the trio were searched in Düsseldorf and Bad Homburg.

It alleged that Thomas R acted as an agent for a Chinese Ministry of State Security employee, gathering information on German military technologies. He used the two other suspects – Herwig F and Ina F, who operate a Düsseldorf-based company – to establish connections within the German scientific community, the office said.

The pair are accused of buying and exporting a specialized laser to China without authorization, and in violation of European Union regulations. The three will be presented to the investigating judge on Monday and Tuesday, where their pre-trial detention will be decided.

China reacted angrily to the spate of arrests in Germany on Tuesday, calling it “hype” intended to “discredit and suppress China.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin added on Tuesday that the reports intend to “destroy the atmosphere of cooperation between China and Europe.”

Separately in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service announced charges against two men who allegedly breached the Officials Secrets Act on behalf of China.

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