Europe

Russia spy couple jailed in Germany

Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag in court in Stuttgart, Germany, 2 Jul 13
Image caption The two spies' features were concealed at the court's request

A married couple have been sent to jail in Germany after being found guilty of spying for Russia for some 20 years.

The couple, codenamed Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, are said to have settled in former West Germany on false passports some 25 years ago.

A court in Stuttgart gave Andreas Anschlag six years and six months, and Heidrun five years and six months.

They were arrested at their home in the western town of Marburg, in October 2011. They had assisted a Dutch spy.

Police think the couple's names, used in their Austrian passports, were false. They are believed to be Russian and in their early to mid-50s.

They had acted as a conduit for a Dutch foreign ministry official with access to Nato secrets. He was unmasked and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

His arrest led to the couple, who had transmitted secrets to Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR.

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin reports that their daughter was born and raised in Germany and knew nothing of their activities - nor of their true identities before they became spies.

At the time of their arrest, prosecutors allege, Mrs Anschlag was sitting in her study in front of a wireless transmitter that was receiving encoded messages on a shortwave frequency and was hooked up by cable to a computer.

Prosecutors say they posed as Austrian citizens of South American origin after arriving in Germany in 1988 and 1990.