Europe

German cybersecurity chief sacked over alleged ties with Russia

The head of Germany’s national cybersecurity agency has been dismissed following reports of possible ties to Russian intelligence.

Germany’s interior minister Nancy Faeser dismissed Arne Schönbohm as head of the BSI agency, German news agency dpa reported.

Schönbohm co-founded a cybersecurity group a decade ago that brings together experts from public institutions and the private sector. 

German media have reported that one of its members is a company founded by a former Russian intelligence agent and that Schönbohm was believed to have maintained relations with the group.

The German government said more than a week ago that it was investigating the reports comprehensively.

“These accusations must be decisively investigated,” Konstantin von Notz, the head of the parliamentary oversight committee for Germany’s intelligence agencies, said last Monday.

There is a growing concern in Germany that the country’s critical infrastructure might be targeted by Russia because of Berlin’s support for Ukraine — something that BSI has warned about in recent times.

The accusations against Schönbohm came as German police were probing an act of “sabotage” on the country’s rail infrastructure, with some officials pointing the finger at Russia in the wake of the Nord Stream pipeline explosions.

Important communications cables were cut at two sites on 8 October, forcing rail services in the north to be halted for three hours and causing travel chaos for thousands of passengers.

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