Today the German federal prosecutor’s office (Der Generalbundesanwalt beim Bundesgerichtshof) revealed that a German citizen was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of being a clandestine asset of the Russian Federation’s military intelligence arm, the GRU. The individual, identified only as Jens F., did not work for the German government, rather he worked for a contractor to the government. He is accused of providing blueprints and plans of the Budestag to the GRU.

Jens F. and his espionage

The statement from the German government tells us Jens F. works for a company which has been repeatedly used by the German Bundestag. (The Bundestag is the German lower house of parliament, similar in purpose as the U.S. Capitol.) His job was inspection of electronic devices used within the Bundestag. German media tells us that the suspect is a 55 year-old German national. The prosecutor’s office states his work provided him natural access to the blueprints and floor plans of the Bundestag.

Characteristically, Russia is already pushing back. “Such reports about caught ‘Russian spies’ only serve to fuel an anti-Russian information campaign to support the myth of Moscow aggression,” said Duma Leonid Sluzki, head of Russia’s foreign relations committee.

There is no rationale provided as to why the arrest occurred now, when the alleged transfer of information to the GRU occurred in the period of July to September 2017. The prosecutor notes that Jens F. transferred the files to a “data carrier” (portable storage device) and then sent it to a GRU officer who was an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin.

We can speculate that as the the recent prosecution of Peter Debbins and that of long time Russian asset FBI supervisory special agent Robert Hanssen indicate, acts of subterfuge are often not discovered until well after the theft has occurred.

GRU’s Fancy Bear

It should be noted that in 2015, the Bundestag’s computers were successfully targeted by the Russian Fancy Bear group, an entity with ties to the GRU.

In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented, speaking to the Bundestag, “I can honestly say, it pains me. On the one hand, I strive daily for a better relationship with Russia, but then on the other we see that there is solid evidence showing that Russian forces are also involved in such activities. This really does add tension to our work towards and our desire for better relations with Russia. It’s also an issue I can’t quite dismiss internally, I find it quite uncomfortable.”

Then again in 2018, the government announced that they were successful in fending off another cyberattack by Fancy Bear against key governmental ministries.

In the world of nation state actions, the computer hacking of 2015 and the 2017 acquisition of blueprints and floorplans would imply that the German government’s lower house of parliament was/is firmly in bullseye of the GRU. Only the prosecutor’s office knows if the Fancy Bear attack of 2018 used information provided by Jens F. in 2017.

It would not be beyond the pale to have HUMINT supporting computer operations. Why the Russian’s would want such and to whom they would be providing these plans/blueprints computer data is open to speculation.

Insider access – the contractor

Facility Security Officers (FSO) will read the above and realize that they too have contractors with unencumbered access to the floor plans and electronic schematics where classified information is processed, be it a stand alone SCIF, or a hardened building. For what purpose did Jens F. provide the information to the GRU was not revealed, and the prosecutors statement notes he was operating on “his own initiative.”

FSO’s will be well served to ensure their SCIF and building plans are secured with appropriate access controls.

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Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is an author and speaker on the topic of security strategy. Christopher, served 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. He lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Upon his retirement, the CIA awarded him the Career Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the highest level of career recognition. Christopher co-authored the book, “Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century” (Syngress, March 2008). He is the founder of