german cybersecurity chief fired after reports of russian intelligence ties

The head of Germany’s national cybersecurity agency has been dismissed following reports of possible ties to Russian intelligence, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said that Interior Minister Nancy Faeser dismissed Arne Schoenbohm as head of the BSI agency following the allegations, which “damaged the necessary confidence of the public in the neutrality and impartiality” of his management, German news agency dpa reported.

Arne Schoenbohm, president of Germany’s national cyber defense body BSI attends a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 8, 2019. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

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Schoenbohm co-founded a cybersecurity group a decade ago that brings together experts from public institutions and the private sector. German media have reported that one of its members is a company founded by a former Russian intelligence agent.

The German government said over a week ago that it was investigating the reports comprehensively.

Schoenbohm, 53, had been the head of the BSI since February 2016. There was no immediate word on who would succeed him.

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The ministry said the decision to replace him was also in the interest of the agency’s 1,500 employees and their ability to work without speculation about the personnel issue, dpa reported.

There is growing concern in Germany that the country’s critical infrastructure might be targeted by Russia because of Berlin’s support for Ukraine.

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