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Ex-E. German Communists Want Ex-Spy

December 30, 1998

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Despite sharp criticism from conservatives, the former East German communists held fast Wednesday to their plan to hire a convicted spy who betrayed NATO secrets during the Cold War.

``We don’t ask the other parties in Bonn whether they happen to have former spies working for them,″ said Juergen Reents, spokesman for the ex-communist party’s parliamentary faction.

Rainer Rupp, a former communist mole at NATO headquarters, has been serving a 12-year prison term since his 1994 for conviction for spying. But he was moved Monday to a minimum-security facility, meaning he can hold an outside job during the day.

Rupp said he wanted to work as an adviser on foreign and security affairs in parliament for the Party of Democratic Socialism _ successor party to the East German communists.

PDS leaders said they were interested in the offer. Reents said he would not be a regular employee, but could work on a contract basis.

Conservative lawmakers called the proposal ``grotesque″ and said they would ask a parliamentary rules committee to examine the case.

Volker Beck, a legal affairs expert for the Greens party, called for a review of the treatment of spies who worked for either East Germany or West Germany during the Cold War.

Those who spied for the communists should not be treated differently than those who spied for the West, as long as they did not directly harm anyone, he said.

Rupp was convicted in 1994 of handing over sensitive strategy plans, codes and military preparedness to his communist contacts when he worked at NATO headquarters in Belgium from 1977 to 1989.

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