News reports say German prosecutors have opened a formal investigation into a series of cyberattacks that have targeted German politicians — attacks that the Foreign Ministry has blamed on Russia.
A spokesman for Germany’s federal prosecutors told reporters on September 9 that the investigation had been opened “on suspicion of espionage.”
The probe comes as the election campaign to choose a new German government heads into the homestretch. The parliamentary elections are scheduled for September 26, and none of the major parties have a decisive lead in the polls.
State security agencies have notified parliament at least three times this year about cyberattacks on lawmakers by foreign intelligence services.
On September 6, the Foreign Ministry said the government had “reliable information” that the attacks could be attributed to actors in Russia, “specifically to the Russian military intelligence service” known as the GRU.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said that a hacker outfit called Ghostwriter has been “combining conventional cyberattacks with disinformation and influence operations.”
She said the ministry had lodged a formal complaint with Russian authorities.
Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks in the past.
The highest-profile incident was a 2015 cyberattack that paralyzed the computer network of the lower house of parliament. German authorities blamed Russian military intelligence.
Germany’s concerns about Russian interference have included scrutiny of the Russian state-funded broadcaster RT, whose online-only German-language service has emphasized divisive issues such as migration and coronavirus restrictions.
Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP