Crossover Spy Tiedge Writes To Bonn Government
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ Crossover spy Hans-Joachim Tiedge said in his first contact with West Germany since defecting two weeks ago that he fled to East Germany to escape a ″hopeless personal situation,″ the government said Monday.
In a handwritten letter given by an East Berlin lawyer to a Bonn official, Tiedge said he willingly defected to East Germany on Aug. 19 and does not want to meet West German representatives.
A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
Interior Ministry spokesman Wighard Haerdtl said the letter hinted that Tiedge’s flight was sudden, instead of a carefully planned end to a long career as a double agent.
″We have no proof that he worked for a long time for a foreign intelligence service,″ Haerdtl told a news conference in Bonn.
He said Tiedge’s ″hopeless personal situation″ apparently referred to his drinking problems, family difficulties and heavy debts.
Tiedge, 48, had worked in West German intelligence for 19 years and most recently was assigned to the counter-espionage headquarters in Cologne and was in charge of tracking East German spies.
His defection was the biggest shock of a major Bonn spy scandal, in which five suspected spies have been arrested, disappeared or defected to the East.
Officials said there was no sign Tiedge was made to write the letter, which read:
″I, Hans-Joachim Tiedge, born 6/24/1937 in Berlin, earlier director in the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Cologne, crossed over to the GDR (East Germany) on 8/19/1985 of my own free will and based on my own decision, out of what was for me a hopeless personal situation.
″I am not prepared to speak with official representatives of the Federal (West German) Republic or with representatives of the news media.″
The letter, with Tiedge’s signature and dated Berlin, Aug. 24, was given to the Bonn government last Thursday.
Wolfgang Vogel, an East Berlin lawyer who often negotiates delicate emigration cases with West Germany, handed it to Ludwig Rehlinger, the state secretary in Bonn’s Ministry for Intra-German Relations, officials said.
Rehlinger was among the officials who had sought to contact Tiedge shortly after his defection.
Tiedge fled after the scandal broke Aug. 6 when a secretary in the Economics Ministry, Sonja Lueneburg, disappeared. Another secretary, Margarete Hoeke, who worked in President Richard von Weizsaecker’s office, subsequently was arrested on suspicion of giving military secrets to the East Germans.
Haerdtl said he could not confirm a report Monday in the Cologne Rundschau newspaper that Tiedge used his last pennies to defect by buying a ticket for a Cologne streetcar that he took to an East German diplomat’s house near Bonn.
The account said Tiedge was driven from the house to East Berlin, ahead of a search for him ordered by West German authorities later in the day.
Behind, he left serious family and financial problems, including debts of up to $110,000, West German newspapers have reported. His wife died in 1982.
Haerdtl said authorities are looking to see if someone was extorting money from Tiedge, ″but we have no proof that he was blackmailed.″
The Hamburg-published Bild Zeitung said Monday that Andrea, one of Tiedge’s three teen-age daughters, wrote East German President Erich Honecker asking him to allow Tiedge to contact his family.
Government spokesman Friedhelm Ost said he assumed East Germany would let Tiedge speak with West German authorities if he wanted to, ″but we can’t force him.″
Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann told Parliament’s domestic affairs committee Monday that Tiedge’s defection was ″grave,″ but the nation’s intelligence operations should recover ″in the foreseeable future.″
Both Germanys have stressed they want to limit any damage to official relations.