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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

German Paper Says Russian Spies Target Bonn

BONN, Germany -- Russian intelligence has targeted Germany for its most vigorous espionage drive, deploying high-powered agents to seek out industrial secrets, a newspaper quoted the German domestic security service as saying Thursday.

The S?ddeutsche Zeitung daily quoted a report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as saying at least 150 Russian agents with "unusually aggressive" methods had been operating in Germany. It gave no details of their methods.

The S?ddeutsche said the report had been kept under wraps in the Bonn chancellery since August last year.

A government spokeswoman said she could not comment immediately on the newspaper report, released ahead of its Friday publication.

Russia's intelligence service, like its Western counterparts, uses diplomatic cover for espionage in all areas of life, from politics to industry. But German security officials have expressed particular concern over possible links between organized crime and Russian intelligence agents in recent years.

The issue has not yet come out in the open in a country that remains Russia's most important Western commercial partner. Germany has traditionally, even in Cold War days, dealt discreetly with Moscow over spying, avoiding where possible public expulsions and denunciations.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl has also been keen to avoid a public feud with his "close friend," Russian President Boris Yeltsin.