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Arne Schoenbohm who is also Germany’s cybersecurity chief has been reportedly facing the probability of being given the boot over some of the alleged ties which he had held with some of the Russian intelligence services, amid heightened vigilance over potential sabotage activities which had been staged by Moscow.
Arne Schoenbohm, who is the head of the Federal Cyber Security Authority (BSI), has also been accused in a recent investigation by broadcaster ZDF of having some contacts with Russia through an association he co-founded in 2012.
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The interior ministry said it was “taking the facts that have been reported seriously and investigating them comprehensively” and was “examining all options on how to deal with the situation”.
A planned joint appearance by Schoenbohm and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser which had been hosted to present a report on German cybersecurity in 2022 had been cancelled as the ministry had set the motion in place to make sure that they clarify the allegations.
Faeser on Monday said her ministry was “examining all necessary steps that may be required” with regard to Schoenbohm.
Germany was “vulnerable” to cyberattacks, “especially due to the threat posed by Russia’s war, and we must do everything we can to master this threat”, she said.
The association which was at the centre of the allegations, is also known as the Cyber Security Council Germany, which advises businesses, government agencies and policymakers on cyber security issues.
According to the popular satire programme on ZDF that broke the story, Schoenbohm still maintains contact with the organisation and the latter had completely denied the allegations while reiterating in a statement on its website on Monday that the charges were “absurd”.
Sebastian Fiedler, a politician with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD), said the accusations “must be investigated very thoroughly” and had already caused “a great deal of damage to trust in the BSI”.
Germany has in recent years repeatedly accused Russia of cyber espionage attempts and the most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that paralysed the computer network of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.