13 September 2004. Thanks to S.
FBIS is the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service.
German Intelligence Reportedly Seeks To Suppress Book By Former Insider
Munich Focus in German 06 Sep 04 pp 48-50
FOCUS IN GERMAN
Monday, September 6, 2004
Article by Josef Hufelschulte: "Agents: Conspiracy Over 'Ruebezahl:' Discharged Intelligence Officer Aims To Get His Own Back Through Revelations in Book About Federal Intelligence Service"
(FBIS Translated Text)
The scene is reminiscent of the Cold War. At number 26, Friedrichstrasse street, in downtown Berlin, close to the former east German border, the Ullstein Verlag publishing house has had a redhot manuscript on its hands for months. Only a few employees were privy to its contents, to which they normally referred by means of codewords. Internal security was set at maximum level, for fear of electronic bugging of the firm's telephones and attempts to hack into its computers.
"Achtung: opponents may be listening and reading!" was the watchword.
The project to which these extreme precautions were applied was a perilous one. As recently as last week, Ullstein's lawyers feared that there would be no holds barred in the Federal Intelligence Service's (BND) attempts to get hold of the proofs of a new book whose title describes the almost 6,000 staff of the state spying force as "conditionally on duty." (bedingt dienstbereit)
The BND charges the author of the 400-page book, that it regards as a frontal attack on Germany's foreign intelligence service, with being criminally guilty of breaching a taboo. For he is not some sociologist or historian on the outside, but an insider -- the first one to go this far. According to Ullstein's advance publicity, 50 year old Norbert Juretzko, who has spent more than 20 years on secret missions, reports "unsparingly on the interior life of Germany's major security agency," describes "fiascos and breakdowns," and reveals the "political entanglements of the BND." Ullstein's nightmare scenario is that the intelligence service might get its hands on the contentious manuscript, with the BND and the Chancellor's Office to which it answers then obtaining an interim judicial injunction preventing its publication.
Last Thursday (2 September), Ullstein's management staff held a marathon meeting at company headquarters. Fearing possible seizure of the book, for which an unusually large print run of at least 50,000 copies is planned, they decided to release a significant number of copies on the Saturday just two days later, rather than waiting for the planned release date of 13 September.
There was no time to lose. On Wednesday of the previous week (1 September), Federal Prosecutor General Kay Nehm launched an investigation into author Norbert Juretzko on "suspicion of disclosing state secrets," according to Chief Public Prosecutor Frauke-Katrin Scheuten's reply to an enquiry by FOCUS.
The investigation has been prompted by an indictment brought by the BND, presently suggesting that the book could have disastrous consequences. The ominous word within security circles is that its publication could blow the cover and cause the arrest of several agents presently engaged in espionage on behalf of Germany -- mainly in Russia, but also in a number of east European states. It is also suggested that Juretzko reveals the methods used for recruiting and controlling informers.
By invoking the power of the law, the normally so reticent intelligence service is breaking new ground. To serve the indictment, BND President August Hanning turned to Matthias Prinz, a Hamburg-based media attorney who is more used to representing celebrity glitterati. This time, though, he is to seek civil damages to compensate camera-shy BND officials who feel they have been damaged by the book.
Author Norbert Juretzko is not averse to risk, and has indeed amassed experience aplenty of the courts. In its statements, Ullstein deliberately refrains from mentioning that on 21 January 2003, Munich's regional court (Landgericht) sentenced the former BND captain to a suspended term of 11 months' imprisonment, having found him guilty of knowingly and fraudulently selling falsified dossiers from Russian agents to the service. Damages amounted to around 85,000 euros.
Juretzko continues to be tormented by the verdict and the trial, from which the public was rigorously excluded. To this day, he sees himself as the victim of a massive state conspiracy, intended to suppress both a serious case of treason at the top of the BND, and misconduct by the Chancellor's Office during the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) era. He now intends to spill the beans on these matters in his book, subtitled: "Scores are settled by someone who got out." (Die Abrechnung eines Aussteigers)
He goes back a long way. Juretzko, once a wiry parachutist, starts by describing his service in NATO's Gladio underground army, intended to weaken a Russian invasion force by means of sabotage operations in the event of war. For anyone thriving on such dare-devil activities, his desk job in Hanover, opening and evaluating mail from a BND agent in the (former East German communist) German Democratic Republic, must have been the height of boredom.
Things became really exciting at the start of the 1990's, when Juretzko and his colleagues ripped off the Soviet army when it was in the process of withdrawing from east Germany. Disguised as an automobile dealer, he supplied second-hand cars to corrupt officers, in exchange for codebooks or onboard computers secretly removed from the modern MiG-29 fighter. He was reprimanded for filming the withdrawal of Russian nuclear missiles. However, he had to turn to the US intelligence services when he needed an advance to buy a mobile home: as always, the BND agency was short of funds.
These tales of Juretzko's derring-do escapades are just a prelude to the heart of his book: what he sees as the scandalous investigation into BND defense chief Volker Foertsch, who in 1997 came under suspicion of being a Russian agent.
In mid-1995, two Russian officers were uncovered in their own country as BND spies, and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Juretzko claims to have received a tip-off in fall 1995 from an informer with the alias Ruebezahl, whom he recruited early in the 1990's in east Germany -- a tip fraught with implications. Moscow allegedly had a German mole in the BND headquarters, who was compromising the service's spies in Russia.
The case came to a head in October 1997. Juretzko's informer Ruebezahl, rated for many years as reliable, acquired what was known as the Report.
This document referred to a Moscow agent at the top of the BND, whose private life had made him no longer operable, and who was therefore to be "disconnected." Once again, a sum of 100,000 US dollars was allegedly provided as a gesture of thanks. The exact description provided caused suspicion to fall on Foertsch, who was henceforth kept under observation and bugged.
Juretzko's book includes the first published description of the dramatic hours in a bugproof room in (former German capital) Bonn, when he claims he briefed high-ranking officials and politicians on the report obtained by Ruebezahl. All those present were shocked in the extreme: government minister and intelligence coordinator Bernd Schmidbauer, now a parliamentarian in the Bundestag; the then BND President Hansjoerg Geiger, now State Secretary (politically appointed senior civil servant) in the Justice Ministry; Kurt Schelter, then State Secretary in the Interior Ministry and now an attorney; and August Hanning, then departmental head in the Chancellor's Office, and now BND President.
Juretzko is unable to adduce unequivocal evidence for his claim that foreign policy considerations meant that the charge of espionage by Foertsch had to be dropped, in order to avoid alarming such allies as the United States. He alleges that Federal Prosecutor General Kay Nehm received and obeyed appropriately strict and secret orders to this effect from the federal government, though this is denied by all those involved in the alleged conspiracy.
The fact is that, just six weeks after Foertsch's house and office were searched at the end of March 1998, Nehm suspended the investigation.
The conclusion drawn in the final report on the case was that the compromising document from Moscow was "100 percent the product of a forger with intelligence service knowledge."
Juretzko regards himself as a scapegoat: this permeates the entire book. He repeatedly claims that the affair surrounding Foertsch, subsequently retired, was crudely hushed up. Instead, it was he himself, the bringer of bad news, who had been prosecuted, condemned, and had his career ruined, he insists.
A similar conclusion is reached by a television program likely to be broadcast on ARD channel one on 13 September. Wilfried Huisman, the author of the 45-minute program "Russian Roulette -- the agents, the Kremlin, and the Chancellor's Office" (Russisch Roulette -- Die Agenten, der Kreml und das Kanzleramt), presents a purported Russian secret agent who confirms the truth of the Foertsch report, and its damning allegations.
On one matter at least, Juretzko can surely be in no doubt: the next few weeks are going to be turbulent ones, and not solely on account of the investigations by the Federal Prosecutor General's Office. Ullstein has so far received more than 100 requests for interviews, and popular TV chatshows are jostling for his services.
There is also his private life to be considered. Until now, no one in the small town of Wietze, in Lower Saxony, was aware that their neighbor Norbert ran foreign agents -- officially, he served in the Bundeswehr. Nor had those who for years had shared his political inclinations had any clue as to the secret life of the chairman of the SPD's (Social Democratic Party of Germany) local branch in the town of Celle.
Only one of his party colleagues, a longtime personal friend, was in on the secret: Defense Minister Peter Struck, whose Bundestag election campaign Juretzko organized locally in 2002.
As a shrewd strategist and defense expert, Struck must surely have one or two tips up his sleeve for his beleaguered pal -- such as how to elegantly parry attacks, from whatever quarter they may come.
(Description of Source: Munich Focus in German -- centrist weekly news magazine)