Too close to the Russians, the head of the German cybersecurity agency fired

It hurts her. The head of the German cybersecurity agency (BSI), Arne Schönbohm, will be dismissed after media reports reporting links with an alleged association close to the Russian secret services.

“A change in the position of president of the BSI will take place quickly,” said sources from the German government. The Ministry of the Interior declared, for its part, “to take seriously” the allegations against Arne Schönbohm, and “to investigate in a comprehensive way” on this subject. “The ministry is studying all options on how to handle this situation,” he added without specifying further.

It was the ZDF that unearthed the case

Arne Schönbohm is implicated because of his alleged contacts with an association called Cyber-Sicherheitsrat Deutschland (German Cybersecurity Council), itself suspected of having contacts with Russian intelligence circles.

These links have been the subject of investigations recently presented in the broadcast of the public television channel ZDF Royal Store. The association, co-founded by Arne Schönbohm and based in Berlin, advises companies, government agencies and politicians on cybersecurity issues. On Monday, she called accusations that she was under Russian influence “absurd”.

According to the daily business Handelsblatt, Arne Schönbohm is the subject of “great discontent” within the government. The presentation of the BSI’s annual report by Schönbohm and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Thursday has been canceled, several media claim.

Saturday train sabotage

The de facto sacking would come as Germany suffered massive rail sabotage on Saturday, for which some have cited the Russian trail in the context of the war in Ukraine. A severing of strategic communication cables for trains had paralyzed traffic for three hours in the north of the country.

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Moscow has been repeatedly accused of cyber espionage against Berlin, even before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is notably made responsible for a large-scale computer hacking which in 2015 targeted the computers of the Bundestag and the services of the then Chancellor, Angela Merkel, as well as NATO and the French-speaking television channel TV5 Monde.

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