Investigations in Austria: Did the former minister know about the Shadow Secret Service?

Investigations in Austria: Did the former minister know about the Shadow Secret Service?


Status: 08.09.2022 at 6:00 PM

In Austria, an investigation is underway into an alleged network of agents close to the regime in Russia. SWRResearch shows that former Secretary of State Kenisal was aware of plans for a shadow intelligence service.

Theyn Marilina Gorz and Mortalla, SWR, and Jan-Philip Hein

The picture went around the world: in August 2018, Karin Kenisel danced on it Marrying Russian President Putin, Until recently, she sat on the board of directors of the Russian energy company Rosneft.

The non-party politician, who was Austrian foreign minister in the VP’s government until 2019 with the right-wing populist FPÖ, has been heavily criticized for being close to Putin. To this day, she regularly appears in Russia Today as an interlocutor. It is now suspected that she may have been directly involved in setting up some kind of shadow secret service.

plan to create a new secret service

In the spring it became known that a group led by Johannes Pieterlik, the then-designated Secretary General in Kneissl’s foreign ministry, was planning to establish a new intelligence service in 2018. Peterlik was to head the “new Security Department” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which consisted of five departments. Egisto O., for whom a position in the “Coordinating Office” department was planned, was the driving force behind the plan.

at the request of SWR O’s lawyer explained: “In general, one should ask oneself which criminal law norms or internal guidelines are being violated, or whether it is perhaps reprehensible if on the associated establishment of a new Department of Corrections and Considerations are being made and precautionary concepts are being written to be written.

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Suspicion of spying for Russia

O is still being investigated in Vienna on suspicion of spying for Russia. The German Federal Public Prosecutor was also interested in 2019 during an investigation called “Russian services” for O, such as SWR First reported in February 2021. O. But it is also suspected that he passed the information to ex-Wirecard CEO Jan Marslake, who is now a fugitive, in exchange for money.

O. He himself, through his lawyer, denies all the charges. According to the law firm responsible, the baseless allegation that lacks any basis has been presented for almost five years now.

According to media reports, diplomat Peterlik, who was ambassador to Indonesia before returning to the Foreign Office, is said to have received a strictly confidential OPCW investigation report into the Novichok assassination attempt in Salisbury, UK, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2018. Had it. The document contains the formula for the nerve agent and soon fell into the hands of Marcelek, who is believed to have been hiding in what is today Moscow.

The imbalance between the protection of the Constitution and military intelligence

With the establishment of another intelligence service, the FPO wanted to expand its control, says Austrian intelligence expert Thomas Riegler. SWR: “Situated at the Foreign Ministry, it would have been the third intelligence service in Austria and competed with the military, which is traditionally responsible for foreign reconnaissance.”

Apparently, the then Federal Office for Preserving the Constitution and Combating Terrorism (BVT) was also in consideration. test files in that demo SWR are available, it states “that one is specifically preparing to undermine BVT’s (former) management team – and in this context, to bring its own priorities in terms of BVT’s improvement, in terms of personnel and Organizational Structure”. According to the investigation file, Agisto O. wrote a former FPÖ MP: “We will find a good solution for everyone who helped.”

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Kneissl clearly informed about the plans

Kneissl claims that nothing is known about these plans. she told the Washington Post in July. but after SWRResearch, he was apparently informed about the plans of the new department. in investigative documents SWR Available is a screenshot with a message showing that the then Foreign Minister and Johannes Pieterlik needed the areas of responsibility of the organizational chart for ten o’clock in the morning. The message does not reveal who wrote the message and to whom it went.

Contact the German Pre-Intelligence Coordinator

While O. And his comrades carried forward the plan for the new department, also having regular contact with the former German Secret Service coordinator under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Bernd Schmidbauer. In early April 2018, O. Schmidbauer for an interrogation at the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office, which dealt with a scandal in the BVT to protect the Constitution. A meeting with Peterlik also took place on the same day, in which, according to Schmidbauer’s recollections, Kneisel was also present.

According to Schmidbauer, he knew that the new department to be created was “to be a secret service based on the German model”, “a counterweight to other existing services in Austria.” However, he has denied being involved in the construction. The meeting was mainly about the Arab world.

Schmidbauer’s role remains unclear

Investigative documents also show that Schmidbauer also wanted to meet in 2018 with the then FPO Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, who in a television interview called for “understanding for Russia” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Critics see him and Karin Kenisal as two important top functionaries of right-wing populists who are sympathetic to the Putin regime and who are interested in establishing a Secret Service structure.

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Schmidbauer also met Jan Marsalek in 2018. According to Schmidbauer, it was about Nowitschok. Schmidbauer does not want to say who drew his attention to Marseille and the chemical warfare agent,

According to intelligence expert Thomas Rigler, if Kneisel had indeed known of the plans for a new intelligence service and had it been established, it would have advanced his ministry to a “security policy actor”. “It would also have been a plus for their ability to function. Knowledge is power,” says Rigler. questions of SWR Kanisal, who now apparently lives in Lebanon, left the allegations unanswered.

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