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Couple sentenced as spies for Russia

BERLIN — A German court convicted a married couple on Tuesday of spying for Russia over more than two decades and handed them prison sentences for passing European Union and NATO secrets to Moscow.

Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag — known only by the fake names on the Austrian passports they used to enter Germany — were sentenced to 6½ years and 5½ years in prison, respectively, by the state court in Stuttgart. The court said their real identity has not been established, but they are believed to be Russian and in their early to mid-50s.

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The verdict came after a court in the Netherlands sentenced a Dutch diplomat in April to 12 years in prison for delivering EU and NATO documents to the agents.

The Anschlags sent on the information he gathered — in exchange for bribes of at least $94,000 — to Russia’s intelligence agency, judges said.

The German judges determined that the documents were confidential rather than top-secret and found no evidence of ‘‘concretely measurable damage’’ to Germany, the Netherlands, the EU, or NATO. The court found that the couple’s actions ‘‘significantly endangered confidence in the reliability and ability to protect secrets’’ of Germany and its partners.

The couple’s activities — including dead-letter drops and radio communications with Russia — sounded like something out of the Cold War, but the case centered to a large extent on their actions in the final years before their arrest in 2011.

Andreas Anschlag arrived in what was then West Germany in 1988, the year before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Heidrun arrived in 1990, the year Germany was reunified.

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