BONN — The East and West German governments wrangled Wednesday over the status of a prominent East German official who was arrested for shoplifting, apparently asked for asylum in the West, then escaped and has taken refuge in his country's diplomatic mission here.
East Germany says that Herbert Meissner, 59, deputy chairman of the East German Academy of Sciences, was kidnaped by the West German secret service, while the Bonn government suspects he is a spy. Late Wednesday, the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe issued a warrant for his arrest.
The row could disrupt relations between the two Germanys, despite the marked improvement in recent months.
The latest tale of Teutonic espionage began late Tuesday when the official East German news agency reported that Meissner was apprehended in West Berlin by government agents and taken to Munich for questioning. The headquarters of the West German foreign intelligence service is in a suburb of Munich.
Worked Against SDI
The East Germans said that Meissner, an economist who helped direct the campaign in East Germany against the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, managed to escape and make his way to the East German mission here in the West German capital.