Moscow: German prosecutors have pressed formal charges against a local couple accused of running a Russian spy network for more than 20 years, German media reported.
Andreas Anschlag, 46, a mechanical engineer, and his spouse Heidrun, 52, a housewife, were arrested in a police raid in October last year.
The pair had sold off their belongings and were apparently preparing to flee, German media said.
Heidrun was reportedly communicating with her superiors in Moscow via a shortwave radio receiver at the very moment police raided her house, prompting her to fall out of her chair.
The couple arrived in Germany between 1988 and 1990, both sporting Eastern European accents and claiming to having been born in South America and grown up in Austria.
But in reality, they worked for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, police were quoted as saying by the Der Spiegel weekly.
The duo was recruiting, schooling and managing other agents who worked in Germany and neighbouring countries, the Die Welt newspaper said.
They were also passing sensitive information to Moscow on EU and NATO plans collected by agents, Die Welt said.
Their most high-profile recruit to be publicly identified was Dutch diplomat Raymond Poeteray, who was detained in April. Poeteray, who denied the accusations, allegedly received 90,000 euro ($115,000) for passing confidential information to Russia.
The Anschlags' cover was blown by Alexander Poteyev, a Russian intelligence officer who was recruited by the CIA in the 1990s and fled to the US in 2010, media reports said.
Poteyev, who was convicted in absentia of high treason in Russia last year, is also alleged to have betrayed a spy ring whose 10 members were swapped for four Russian espionage convicts in 2010.
The list of US-based spies included Chapman, 30, who went on to make a career as a media personality in Russia.
The Anschlags received at least 100,000 euro ($130,000) a year for their efforts, a prosecutor claimed in court, according to German television channel N-TV.
No date has been set for the trial of the duo, who claim they are not guilty.
No Russian governmental official has spoken on the case.
First Published: Friday, September 28, 2012, 22:37