The Cyber Security Council e.V. (CSR) is said to maintain dubious contacts with Russian secret services. Nevertheless, top people from the Ministry of the Interior, the Chancellery and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution exchanged views with the Berlin association.
According to a report by the news magazine FOCUS, top officials in German security agencies have for years supported the controversial Cyber Security Council (CSR), which the Federal Ministry of the Interior believes is said to have dubious contacts with Russian secret services.
Despite knowledge of the Berlin association’s dubious connections to former and active officers of the KGB and the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow, top people from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Bundeswehr, the Chancellery, the Ministry of the Interior and the Foreign Office reported in exclusive rounds on the status of German cyber -Security, according to FOCUS, citing the club’s meeting minutes.
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) recently dismissed the President of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Arne Schönbohm, from his post because he had given a speech at an anniversary celebration of the association, which had fallen into disrepute.
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Schönbohm’s counterparts from the past few years have remained unmolested. According to FOCUS research, Andreas Könen, head of cyber and information security in Faeser’s ministry, was a guest speaker at a CSR event on April 3, 2019. He was followed that evening by Thomas Fitschen, cyber coordinator at the Federal Foreign Office.
Hans-Georg Maassen, then President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), reported in 2016 on cyber attacks by foreign countries. A year later, Burkhard Even, then head of BfV counterintelligence and now vice president of the military counter-intelligence service (MAD), informed the confidential CSR group about gaps in the cybernet.
In 2016, Major General Michael Färber reported on the establishment of the Bundeswehr’s new cyber command. Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, State Secretary in the Chancellery, described his work as a secret service coordinator in 2015.
The dismissal of Arne Schönbohm as BSI President has meanwhile led to tensions in the Federal Ministry of the Interior. According to FOCUS information, State Secretary Hans-Georg Engelke, who is primarily responsible for the security authorities, was not informed of Minister Faeser’s decision.
Engelke’s counterpart, State Secretary Markus Richter, expressly approved Schönbohm’s appearance and speech at the CSR anniversary celebrations.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior declined to comment on the Schönbohm case. She also did not want to confirm or deny an alleged observation of CSR President Hans-Willhelm Dünn by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.