The operational cover of about 3,500 intelligence officers working for the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND or Bundesnachrichtendienst) have been blown after a double agent within the BND leaked their real identities to the CIA. The 31-years old agent has been identified as Marcus.R, a low-level clerk who nonetheless had a high-level security clearance within the agency. Markus.R established contact with the CIA via an online encrypted communication channel in 2012.
It is conventional knowledge that intelligence agencies do spy on each other as a way to establish and maintain intelligence superiority over overt adversaries, friends and potential enemies alike. The noteworthy aspect of this intelligence debacle is that it was intentionally leaked to the media hence giving it global publicity and also exposing a benign rift between two formidable western intelligence agencies. Both the Americans and the Germans preferred a quiet resolution of the ignominy but the CIA’s unpredictable ambivalence towards the matter drove the Germans to expose the matter to the media.
Markus.R was arrested in July 2014 after BND counterintelligence officers uncovered an American spy ring in Berlin made up of Markus, Leonid.K (an official within the German Defense Ministry) and an unnamed CIA station chief. A few days later, Germany expelled a CIA station chief based in Berlin.
Markus communicated with his American handlers stationed in the American Embassy via a secure encrypted link embedded within a custom-designed weather application installed on his computer. During his arrest, Markus was found with a cache of stolen digital documents which contained a list of both the operational aliases and real identities of employees of the BND’s Foreign Theater Operations department who were stationed abroad. The Foreign Theater Operations department has stationed intelligence operatives abroad either embedded in overseas German military missions or simply as embassy and consulate employees.