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Prosecutor says presidential secretary admit’s spying

September 4, 1985

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ A secretary in the president’s office who is under arrest has admitted she spied for communist East Germany and took money for it, the federal prosecutor’s office said Wednesday.

The secretary, Margarete Hoeke, was arrested Aug. 24 on suspicion of espionage. Prosecutors said her admissions came during questioning by police.

Parliament’s Defense Committee questioned government security experts for more than two hours Wednesday about the still-unfolding spy scandal that involves at least five defections, arrests or disappearances.

One of the five was Hans-Joachim Tiedge, who defected to East Germany on Aug. 19. He was in charge of the counter-espionage bureau’s East German section.

″On the whole, we received no new information on several decisive questions relating to the affair,″ an opposition Social Democrat on the committee told reporters.

Erwin Horn said the committee heard security specialists from the Defense Ministry and officials of the prosecutor’s office.

Committee chairman Alfred Biehle said there still was no list of confidential documents that Ms. Hoeke, 49, may have seen during her 26-year career as a junior secretary in the federal president’s office.

He said she was believed to have met with East German agents at least five times in the past three years.

Ms. Hoeke had access to secret government cables, reports from West German embassies abroad and details about visits to Bonn by foreign leaders, the chairman said, but not to NATO documents or government reports on NATO matters.

Alexander Prechtel, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said Ms. Hoeke told officials about her role as an undercover agent on Wednesday.

He said the secretary admitted going to Copenhagen, Denmark, early last month to receive $1,470 from a man she identified as an East German agent.

″She has made statements about her work as a spy, but whether she’s telling us everything, we still don’t know,″ Prechtel said in a telephone interview.

The mass-circulation newspaper, Bild, reported that Ms. Hoeke had admitted to being an East German spy since 1970, but Prechtel did not confirm the report.

West Germany’s president, now Richard von Weizsaecker, plays a largely ceremonial role but is kept informed on sensitive government matters.

Prechtel said Reinhard Liebetanz, a high-ranking security official, still was under investigation. Liebetanz was arrested and held briefly last week in connection with the espionage scandal.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Helmut Kohl rejected demands that he fire Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann, who is ultimately responsible for the nation’s security services.

Kohl dismissed counter-espionage chief Heribert Hellenbroich last week for allegedly protecting Tiedge despite financial, family and health problems that officials say made the counterspy an obvious security risk.

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