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Key Secretary Guilty of Treason in W. Germany

September 01, 1987|From Times Wire Services

DUESSELDORF, West Germany — A former secretary to five West German presidents was convicted of treason and sentenced to eight years in prison Monday after admitting she gave state secrets to a Soviet KGB agent because she was lonely and loved him.

A five-judge court imposed the sentence on Margret Hoeke, 51, after finding her guilty of accepting bribes and providing classified foreign policy and military information to the Soviets, including sensitive exchanges between President Reagan and Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

West Germany's chief federal prosecutor described it as "one of the most damaging cases of treason" in the nation's history.

In the trial, which began June 15, Hoeke admitted spying for a Soviet agent she knew as Franz Becker for at least 14 years.

In his sentencing statement, Judge Klaus Wagner said Hoeke, who began working for the president's office in 1959, had been a "valuable agent for the KGB, and to the Federal Republic (West Germany) an especially dangerous agent."

Hoeke's espionage activities were revealed in August, 1985, when a spy scandal involving 15 suspected Soviet Bloc agents was uncovered in Bonn and she was subsequently arrested. At the time of her arrest, she was executive secretary to President Richard von Weizsaecker.

During the trial, Hoeke testified that she grew up feeling unloved by her family. She said she was single and lonely when befriended by Becker in 1968 and that she maintained a relationship with him until 1973.

"She had access to confidential, secret and at times highly classified information, and betrayed all that to the point of severely disadvantaging foreign policy," chief prosecutor Joachim Lampe said at the trial.

Lampe said she began providing secret documents to Becker around 1971 and continued spying for regular payment after their relationship broke up.

Hoeke received a total of $18,333 plus jewelry and paid foreign vacations in exchange for spying.

The indictment said she used devices such as a miniature camera hidden in her lipstick, and a hollowed-out hair brush to store material.

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