There has been criticism of Arne Schönbohm for some time. Now he is to vacate his post as head of the BSI. The reason: possible contacts with the Russian secret service.

Arne Schönbohm has been president of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) since 2016. Schönbohm has always maintained close contacts with the business community. And it is precisely these that could now be his undoing. On 07 October 2022, the ZDF magazine Royale reported on Schönbohm’s possible connections to the Russian secret service KGB. According to reports from Bild and Handelsblatt, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser now wants to recall the BSI chief.

Potential links to the KGB

“Protection you can rely on” is the slogan of the Berlin-based software company Protelion. But how reliable is this protection really? The company is at the center of an affair that is currently stirring up federal politics. Protelion recently emerged from a German subsidiary of the Russian company Infotecs. And Infotecs was not only founded by a former member of the KGB, it is also said to cooperate closely with the Russian secret service.

What role does Schönbohm play?

Schönbohm was aware of the fact that Protelion may have ties to the KGB and has therefore been in the sights of the security authorities for some time. Nevertheless, in September the BSI president took part in the ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the Cyber Security Council Germany e.V. association, of which the controversial software company is a member.

Prompt dismissal possible

The BSI is an important authority for a very sensitive area and must clearly distinguish itself from Russian intelligence circles, criticized Green Party deputy leader Konstantin von Notz. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior stated that they wanted to “examine all options on how to deal with the current situation.” It is possible that Schönbohm will have to vacate his post as BSI president in the near future. An appearance with Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser, which had been planned for weeks, has already been canceled, and the Bundestag’s digital committee plans to deal with Schönbohm’s case shortly.

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