Hong Kong trade body says ex-employee under investigation, 2 weeks after Germany arrests 3 over spying for Beijing

Hong Kong trade body says ex-employee under investigation, 2 weeks after Germany arrests 3 over spying for Beijing

A publicly-funded Hong Kong trade promotion body has confirmed a former employee is under investigation, two weeks after three Germans were arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing.

Federal prosecutors said last month that three German nationals had been arrested on “strong suspicion” of working for Chinese intelligence services.

They identified one of the trio as Thomas R, without revealing his full name, in a press release published when the arrests were made on April 22. The other two were listed as married couple Herwig F and Ina F.

German media outlets said the trio ran an organisation called “Smart City Verein”, or “Smart City Association” in English.

The organisation’s website lists Thomas Reichenbach, Herwig Fischer and Ina Fischer as contacts and states the association aims to seek more efficient transport solutions through “innovative concepts”.

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

Responding to the Post’s inquiries, a council spokesman said: “A former employee is under investigation for his alleged personal activity. According to our knowledge, the HKTDC is not the subject of that investigation.”

It declined to provide any further details.

German prosecutors said last month that Thomas R stood accused of acting as an agent for an employee of China’s Ministry of State Security, the country’s secret service branch.

He was suspected of obtaining information about innovative technologies in Germany that had potential military applications, they added.

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 Beijing’s secret services, which paid for the device, and exported it to China without authorisation.

Ines Peterson, a spokeswoman for Germany’s Office of the Federal Prosecutor, declined to confirm Thomas R’s full identity or provide further updates on the case.

Last month’s press release from German officials said the three suspects had appeared in court as part of further legal procedures.

According to local media, at least two of the suspects remain in custody.



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