Zwei verdeckte Männer vis-à-vis zur Illustration des Arbeitsfelds „Spionage- und Proliferationsabwehr“, Keyvisual Spionageabwehr

Why espionage and proliferation?

Success or failure in professional and private life often depend on being accurately informed in good time. Such an information advantage is crucial to states as well. Collecting freely available information, for instance, is among the important legitimate tasks fulfilled by the diplomats of foreign countries in Germany. It helps them to keep their governments informed about current events and long-term developments.

States that strive to gain a knowledge edge in strategic, political and military matters or in economic and technological contexts do not hesitate to procure the necessary information secretly and illegally.

These countries use their intelligence services to get access to information that is not publicly available. In doing so, they try to gain an information advantage that is bound to put the German side at a disadvantage.

This form of clandestine intelligence collection is called espionage and may under certain conditions be punishable as treason or as an activity as an agent for an intelligence service.

Uncovering and preventing espionage activities of foreign intelligence services is among the tasks of the Counter-Intelligence Department of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz.

Other countries also strive to exert illegitimate influence on Germany in a more or less covert way. Their efforts are aimed at public debates, the democratic opinion-forming processes and political decision-making processes.

Another task fulfilled by counter-intelligence is to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of related missile technology and of the goods and expertise necessary for producing them.

Germany as a leading industrial nation is a major target of the procurement efforts of regimes engaging in proliferation activities. Faced with a large number of regional conflicts, these countries consider weapons of mass destruction an appropriate means of countering military threats and of gaining international power. An unhindered spreading of such weapons technology would put regional stability at risk and could lead to arms races or uncontrollable military conflicts.

In the light of this, Germany has undertaken to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. BfV's counter-proliferation will follow up on any pertinent information it receives. This may be the case if a product is ordered via a third country to circumvent an export ban, if a front company is involved or if the actual end use of a dual-use item is concealed.

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Anti-terrorist Hotline: +49(0)221/ 792-3366

Anti-terrorist Hotline: +49(0)221/ 792-3366

Publications

2018 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2018 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: June 2019
Further information Download
Cyber attacks controlled by intelligence services

Cyber attacks controlled by intelligence services

DOI: May 2018
Further information Download
2017 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2017 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: July 2018
Further information Download
How can I identify extremists and members of foreign secret services within my environment? - Important information for refugees in Germany

How can I identify extremists and members of foreign secret services within my environment? - Important information for refugees in Germany

DOI: March 2018
Further information Download
Right-wing extremism - Signs, symbols and banned organisations

Right-wing extremism - Signs, symbols and banned organisations

DOI: October 2018
Further information Download
2016 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2016 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: July 2017
Further information Download