EAST BERLIN — A senior East German scientist, who has taken refuge in his country's mission in Bonn to avoid arrest as a suspected spy, called on West German authorities Friday to allow him to go home.
Herbert Meissner, in a television interview made in the East German mission and broadcast in East Germany, said he had reported there of his own free will. He looked relaxed and smiled.
"They tried to bring a high-ranking GDR (East German) figure to an act of treachery. I am being held against my will here in the FRG (West Germany) . . . and I want to go home to work for another 10 years, home to my family and comrades.
"There is no other solution but my return to the GDR," he said.
West German authorities have said that Meissner, 59, would be detained on suspicion of espionage if he left the East German mission. They said he asked to defect after being arrested for shoplifting a shower head in a West Berlin department store last week, but apparently later changed his mind and went to the East German mission.
East Germany claims that Meissner, deputy chairman of the National Academy of Sciences in East Berlin, was kidnaped by West German intelligence.
The affair has soured a steady improvement in the climate between the two German states. East Berlin warned Thursday that it could seriously damage relations if the high-ranking academic is not allowed to return home without hindrance.
Federal Prosecutor Kurt Rebmann had issued a warrant on Wednesday for Meissner's arrest on suspicion of espionage, saying he had confessed to West German intelligence officers that he worked for East Germany's spy service.
West German police Friday stepped up pressure on the East Germans by mounting searches of cars leaving the mission in the suburb of Bad Godesberg in an apparent effort to prevent attempts to smuggle Meisnner to East Germany. A spokesman for Rebmann's office said the controls on the cars were an appropriate way of trying to apprehend him.
East German diplomat Otto Brandtstaeter said the mission is monitoring the checks and that his country reserves the right to take possible measures in retaliation. He did not elaborate, but his warning indicated East Berlin might impose similar checks on West German diplomats there.
Brandtstaeter, speaking through an intercom at the entrance to the mission, confirmed that Meissner was still there.