Munich: Chinese gov't spying on Uighurs
China is not the only country keeping tabs on emigrants in Europe.
On Tuesday morning, officers from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office and the Bavarian police searched the homes of four Chinese nationals in the Munich area, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned. They are under suspicion of being intelligence service agents for the Chinese government tasked with spying on Munich's large expatriate community of Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in China that has been engaging in violent protests this year against perceived discrimination.
Several hundred Uighurs live in exile in Munich, and many of them are politically active. Munich has one of the world's largest exile communities of Uighurs and the World Uighur Congress is based there. The government in Beijing is interested in everything the Uighurs think, talk about or plan. The Uighurs are one of the "five poisons" the Communist government is fighting against with all the means at its disposal.
The Federal Prosecutor's Office has discovered that the Chinese government has been recruiting a number of informants to spy on Munich's Uighur community. Investigators believe that the suspected group of agents is controlled from within the Munich consulate by a consul who has been observed conducting conspirative meetings with the alleged agents. The consul himself has diplomatic immunity from prosecution in Germany but prosecutors are investigating four of his alleged informers.
The investigation presents yet another strain on the already tense relationship between China and Germany. The spying activities in Munich are closely coordinated with Beijing, with the consul reporting directly to the homeland. The Chinese government is following every step taken by the German government with interest.
The rigid countermeasures taken by German officials are new. Last year, the Federal Prosecutor's Office established a procedure whereby all evidence regarding suspected Chinese spying activities was collated, but until Tuesday, no searches or arrests had been carried out. Officials largely limited themselves to keeping a close eye on hostile behavior on the part of the Chinese government and on the extreme interest showed by consulate employees in Munich's community of Uighurs in exile.
Source: Spiegel (English)
See also: Munich: Uighurs protest, Chinese embassy attacked