German federal prosecutors arrested and charged a semi-retired think tank head Tuesday on suspicion of spying for China. The political scientist, identified as Klaus L., 75, under German privacy laws, ran the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Munich according to broadcaster ARD since 2001 before later establishing the Institute for Transnational Studies.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said it generally did not name suspects for privacy reasons. Well-sourced German media reports suggest the man worked as a double agent, spying initially for the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) for 50 years. The experience allowed him to found a think tank – the Institute for Transnational Studies (ITS) – after he retired from active service. The foundation is associated with the Christian Social Union (CSU), a sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in Bavaria. German authorities allege he was recruited by Chinese intelligence while lecturing at Tongji University in Shanghai in mid-2010. He was regularly debriefing his handlers and given money, typically before major conferences and state visits. His travel expenses to China were also covered through November of 2019, which is when German investigators showed up at his home to arrest him and execute a search of his property.
Klaus L. had just returned from Italy and was on his way to the airport in Munich to fly on to Macau with his wife to meet his Chinese handlers when the knock on the door came. Police confiscated thumb drives and computers while executing a search of the property.