A Russian researcher accused of spying while working a European rocket program denied the allegations against him in a German court on Thursday.
"I'm not an agent," the Russian national said as his trial got under way in Munich.
The young man, who worked as a researcher at the University of Augsburg until last year, has been charged with secret service agent activity. Federal prosecutors believe that the Russian secret service had sought his help to obtain information about development of the European Ariane launcher.
According to the indictment, the man repeatedly handed over scientific articles that were publicly accessible online to a consulate employee in Munich – in exchange for a payment of €2,500 ($2,843).
He is accused of using his position at the university to access information.
The accused does not deny these claims. However, he emphasized that he did not know that the man he was in contact with was also a member of the secret service.
He had met him by chance on a trip with friends, the defendant said. Afterwards, they met for a beer, where the consulate employee is said to have told him about an acquaintance who wanted to invest in aviation projects.
"I never thought about him being an employee of an agent organization," the defendant said.
He also argued that he could not imagine that the Russian secret service would be interested in information that is publicly available anyway. The articles about the Ariane rocket can be found on Wikipedia.