A translator for the German armed forces was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of spying for Iran.
In what could become a serious scandal for the German military, the arrested man is suspected of passing highly sensitive information to Iranian intelligence over a number of years.
The 50-year-old suspect, named only as Abdul-Hamid S, is a German citizen of Afghan heritage. He was arrested in the Rhineland region of Germany.
He worked as a translator and cultural advisor to the German military, which has some 1,100 troops serving with international forces in Afghanistan, where they are training local armed forces and police and assisting them in the conflict with the Taliban.
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He had access to classified information about German troop deployments in Afghanistan and other matters.
“Abdul Hamid S. is strongly suspected of having worked for a foreign intelligence service,” the German federal prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
The arrest comes a week after the European Union accused Iran of plotting to carry out assassinations in several European countries and ordered new sanctions against Iranian intelligence.
Iran has one of the most sophisticated and aggressive intelligence apparatuses in the Middle East and is known to operate on European soil.
The arrest is a fresh security blow for Germany after an officer in its own BND intelligence service was discovered passing secrets to the US in 2014.
Markus R was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of passing secret information to the CIA from 2009 to 2014 in exchange for payments of €90,000 (£80,000). He was caught after he also attempted to sell secrets to Russian intelligence.
Abdul Hamid S could face up to ten years in prison if he is convicted of spying.