Berlin invited Chinese diplomat to meet over spying case linked to Hong Kong trade body ex-employee

Berlin invited a senior Chinese embassy official to an urgent meeting after three suspects, which allegedly includes an ex-employee of a Hong Kong trade promotion body, were arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing, German authorities have told the Post.

The three German nationals were arrested last month over allegations they were working to gather sensitive technologies and industrial data on behalf of Chinese intelligence services.

“After the espionage allegations became known, we invited the charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy to an urgent meeting at the foreign office,” a German Federal Foreign Office spokesman told the Post on Monday.

He stopped short of revealing if the meeting had already taken place or offering further details about the ongoing investigation led by the country’s federal public prosecutor general.

The Post has reached out to the Chinese Embassy in Berlin for comment.

In a press release published after the arrests were made on April 22, German prosecutors identified one of the suspects as Thomas R, without revealing his full name.

The other two were listed as married couple Herwig F and Ina F.

German media outlets refrained from reporting the trio’s full names but said they were part of an organisation called “Smart City Verein”, or “Smart City Association” in English.

The association’s website lists Thomas Reichenbach, Herwig Fischer and Ina Fischer as contacts.

Reichenbach’s social media webpage showed he had worked as a marketing manager at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council since July 2022. It was not immediately clear when he stopped working for the publicly funded organisation.

Thomas Reichenbach is listed as a contact on the website of an organisation named by German media in the spying case. Photo: Smart City

A council spokesman earlier confirmed a former employee was under investigation for his “alleged personal activity”, and the trade promotion body was not the subject of that investigation.

All three suspects are accused of gathering sensitive industrial data that might potentially expand “China’s maritime combat power”.

The trio also allegedly bought a special laser in Germany on behalf of Chinese intelligence services, which paid for the device, and exported it to China without authorisation.

Over in the UK, British police on Monday charged three men, including a public officer working at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, over allegations they had carried out surveillance against dissidents from the city.

Beijing has slammed the case as “pure fabrication”.



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