Aide to far-right German leader arrested for spying for China

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
4 Min Read

Jian Jie, an aide to a far-right member of the European Parliament, was arrested by German police late Monday on charges of spying for China, Al Jazeera reported.

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Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that Jianye is believed to have repeatedly provided information about the European Parliament's dealings to China's Ministry of State Security (MSS).

The arrest has sparked anger in Beijing, with Europe warning that “democracy is at risk” ahead of EU elections in June.

German authorities did not specify which politician had appointed the arrested individual. However, the media reported that the German citizen was an associate of Maximilian Krah.

The Member of Parliament (MEP) is the lead candidate for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Prosecutors said Jian Jie was arrested late Monday in Dresden and his apartment was searched.

As well as reporting on European Parliament negotiations and decisions in January, they also allegedly spied on Chinese opposition figures in Germany.

Berlin's Interior Minister Nancy Feser said the spying allegations were “extremely serious”.

“If it is confirmed that there was spying for Chinese intelligence from inside the European Parliament, it is an attack on European democracy from the inside,” he declared in a statement.

“Whoever employs such a staff member also has responsibility,” he said. “This matter must be cleared up accurately. All connections and background should be highlighted.”

Media reports have linked Krah to a Russian scheme to influence the vote, which was uncovered by Czech intelligence earlier this month. He was also questioned by the FBI in January on suspicion of receiving money from Kremlin agents, Al Jazeera reported.

The AfD said in a brief statement that the arrest was “deeply disturbing”.

Party spokesman Michael Pfalzgraf said, “Since we have no further information on the case, we must await further investigation by federal prosecutors.”

However, China's Foreign Ministry has rejected the alleged arrest, accusing unknown forces of efforts to discredit Beijing and ruin bilateral relations.

A spokesperson said, “The intention of such propaganda is very clear… It is to defame and suppress China and destroy the environment of cooperation between China and Europe.”

News of Jian Jie's detention came hours after Germany arrested three other people accused of spying for the MSS.

In connection with that incident, the Chinese Embassy in Berlin announced that Beijing conducts “no espionage activities” in Germany. It accused Berlin of trying to “manipulate China's image and defame China”.

However, on the same day, the United Kingdom also announced the arrest of two people suspected of providing “damaging information” to Beijing.

The series of arrests comes shortly after Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited China to discuss economic ties and pressure Beijing to drop its support for Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.

Berlin has recently warned about growing efforts by Moscow and Beijing to secure political and economic influence, and German intelligence agencies have called for broader powers, as Al Jazeera has reported.

In reaction to Jian Ji's arrest, German MEPs called on the European Parliament to step up continued investigations into foreign influence to avoid interference in the voting in early June.

Green MEP Terry Reintke said, “We demand preliminary results before the election.” “Dictatorships like China and Russia are actively trying to undermine our democracy in Europe.”

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