Former East German Spy Chief Apologizes for Injustices of Communists Esd: RESTORES first
Former East German Spy Chief Apologizes for Injustices of Communists Esd: RESTORES first reference to Wolf in 2nd graf
MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ The former East German spymaster, whose agents penetrated as high as the office of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, apologized for the injustices of communism Thursday but said he shouldn’t be on trial.
Markus Wolf, 68, faces charges of espionage, treason and corruption in a Berlin court. He was in Munich on Wednesday to testify at the trial of one of his former aides, Harry Schuett.
It was one of the most eagerly awaited court appearances since the unification of Germany a year ago, and Wolf was mobbed by journalists as he entered the courtroom.
During his first news conference since surrendering to German authorities last month, Wolf said ″our people″ are owed an apology.
″Everyone like me who was linked to this system where a great deal of injustice happened certainly is to blame and must also admit that,″ Wolf said. But he insisted he had ″no great influence″ within the power structure.
Since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, various East German leaders have made statements attempting to curry public favor, or to minimize their role within the regime.
Also Thursday, Wolf said prosecuting former East German spies was ″a blatant violation of internationally accepted human rights.″
He told the court it should be illegal to indict agents from the ″sovereign state of the German Democratic Republic,″ unless West German agents also are prosecuted for spying against the east. He said singling out Communist agents violates ″equality before the law.″
Germany’s highest criminal appeals court is considering the question of whether former East Germans can be tried for activities that were legal under the Communist regime. A decision is expected in January.
Wolf was asked a round of questions during a one-hour appearance at the court, including his profession.
″I am an author,″ he replied, drawing laughter. Wolf, who headed East Germany’s spy operations from 1958 to 1987, is scheduled to travel to Frankfurt on Friday to promote his latest book at the city’s international book fair.
Wolf, a tall, striking man, ran East Germany’s secret service with an elan that made him the envy of his Warsaw Pact colleagues.
His most sensational coup was the planting of a spy in the office of then- Chancellor Brandt. When the agent was discovered in 1974, Brandt’s government fell.
East Germany’s Communist regime collapsed at the end of 1989, and Wolf fled a few days before the two Germanys united on Oct. 3, 1990. He spent much of the last year in Moscow but recently tried unsuccessfully to win political asylum in several countries.
Wolf surrendered on Sept. 24 to prosecutors. He was released last Friday on $150,000 bail.