Former East German Spy Chief Appears at Munich Trial
MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ Markus Wolf, the former spymaster of East Germany who once planted an agent near the top of West Germany’s government, appeared as a witness today in the trial of a man who worked as one of his spies.
He objected to the proceeding and refused to give details of the spying operations of the east’s former Communist regime.
More than 100 reporters and photographers mobbed the 68-year-old Wolf as he walked into the courtroom.
Wolf, who had unsuccessfully sought political asylum in several countries, surrendered to German authorities on Sept. 24 and was released from jail Friday on $150,000 bail. Prosecutors want to try him on espionage, treason and corruption charges.
His testimony at the treason trial of former top spy Harry Schuett had been arranged even before his surrender. Also on trial is a suspected agent, Guenther Boettger.
Under questioning during an approximately one-hour session, Wolf declined to provide any details about the structure of East Germany’s spy operations.
Wolf told the court he believed the trial illegal, unless spies for West Germany also are to be tried. Speaking from what appeared to be prepared notes, he said singling out agents for the Communists violates Germany’s principle of equal justice under law.
Germany’s highest criminal appeals court is considering a case raising the objections Wolf mentioned. A decision is expected in January.
According to reports, the conditions of Wolf’s bail generally restrict him to staying near his home in the elegant Nikolaiviertel section of east Berlin. However, he also is expected to appear in Frankfurt on Friday to promote his latest book at the city’s international book fair.
Wolf headed East Germany’s spying operations from 1958 to 1987, running it with an elan that made him the envy of his Warsaw Pact colleagues.
His most sensational coup was the planting of a spy in the office of then- West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. When the agent’s cover was blown in 1974, Brandt’s government fell.
East Germany’s Communist regime collapsed at the end of 1989, and Wolf fled shortly before the country united with West Germany on Oct. 3, 1990. He spent most of his time as a fugitive in Moscow.