German cybersecurity head sacked over alleged ties to Russia – Der Spiegel

According to sources cited by Der Spiegel, the German Interior Ministry has dismissed Arne Schönbohm, the head of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), who is thought to have connections to the Russian secret services.
Der Spiegel said that the Interior Ministry “quickly removed the head of the BSI and initiated a disciplinary investigation.”

Early in October, Der Spiegel and Handelsblatt revealed, citing government sources, that Interior Minister Nancy Feather was about to fire Schoenbohm due to a claim made by ZDF’s Magazin Royale that there was a connection between Russian special services and the group Cyber-Security Council of Germany (Cyber-Sicherheitsrat Deutschland).

Schönbohm, who co-founded the organization and served as its director until 2016, had done so. He was joined by Huawei, the energy heavyweights Eon, EnBW, and Vatenfall from Germany, the German Ministry of Health, and the police union.

The cybersecurity firm Infotecs GmbH, which rebranded as Protelion in the spring, was also represented on the Council. A division of the Russian company Infotecs is called Protelion. Policy Network Analytics claims that Andrei Chapchayev, the company’s founder and CEO, once worked for a KGB division.

In response to repeated recommendations to distance himself from the Council, Schönbohm reportedly gave his department’s staff the directive to “not appear together with representatives of the association.”

Due to his connections to Russia, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder lost some powers in the spring. The budget committee agreed to eliminate the employees and reduce money for Schroeder’s office. Schroeder was also encouraged to resign from his positions with Russian state-owned businesses by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Schroeder left the board of directors of Rosneft at the end of May, saying it was “difficult to renew his powers,” and he was warned about consequences. Schroeder sued the Bundestag in August.

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