BONN — West German officials today announced the defection of a diplomat from East Germany, while authorities questioned and then released a security official they said was suspected of being a double agent.
The events were the latest in a spreading spy scandal that has shaken the government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl and prompted the reorganization of West German intelligence.
"I can only confirm that an East German diplomat has deserted," government spokesman Juergen Findeisen told Associated Press.
Government sources identified the diplomat as Martin Winkler, former charge d'affaires at the East German Embassy in Buenos Aires. The sources, insisting on anonymity, said Winkler came to West Germany on Sunday.
In Buenos Aires, the government news agency Telam said the East German Embassy had informed the Argentine Foreign Ministry of Winkler's defection.
Whether the defection and the spy scandal were connected was not known.
Earlier today, a prosecution spokesman announced the second arrest in the espionage scandal some have called the gravest in West Germany's history.
But Alexander Prechtel, spokesman for the chief federal prosecutor's office, said authorities then freed Reinhard Liebetanz, 48, a section chief in the Constitutional Protection Office, the agency whose duties include counterespionage against East Germany.
Not Enough Evidence
"Further investigations have shown there is not enough evidence to continue to hold him or to issue an indictment," Prechtel said. "He has been released after extensive questioning."
Security sources who asked not to be named said West German and Austrian authorities are searching for Eberhard Severin, described as a longtime friend of Liebetanz. They said Severin is wanted on suspicion of espionage but declined to give details.
It was also announced today that veteran diplomat Hans-Georg Wieck was appointed as the country's new intelligence chief to replace Heribert Hellenbroich.
Hellenbroich was held responsible for mishandling the case of Hans Joachim Tiedge, the counterespionage leader who defected to East Germany last week.
Wieck, 57, served as ambassador to the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and most recently was West Germany's chief envoy to NATO.