A spy scandal that has rocked West Germany escalated Friday with the arrest of a fourth veteran Foreign Ministry official who allegedly passed secrets to East Germany's former Communist regime.
Rolf Hannich, spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe, said the suspect has been with the Foreign Ministry since 1955 and had carried out diplomatic assignments in Yugoslavia, Austria, Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
"Since at least 1975 the suspect has obligated himself to conduct intelligence activities for the Ministry of State Security," said Hannich, referring to East Germany's intelligence service, which is being disbanded.
Authorities on Friday also arrested a member of the West German defense force, who is believed to have spied for East Germany as well.
Hannich said this second suspect worked in the West German Armed Forces Information Center since 1972. As a programmer and later a systems technician, the man had access to privileged data that he passed on to his East German superiors, according to Hannich.
Since early April, four alleged East German agents have been arrested. Three of them were members of the foreign service and the fourth worked for the federal border police.
Police sources said West German officials have received a wealth of information on East Germany's intelligence network under the former hard-line Communist government, which led to the recent arrests.