May 30, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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From a boat that capsized in the Danube to spying in clerical garb: the spying scandal throws Austria into turmoil

From a boat that capsized in the Danube to spying in clerical garb: the spying scandal throws Austria into turmoil

Vienna is the spy capital of Europe

This is not the first time that Austria has appeared in the news with a story about relations with Russia. This has often been the case in recent years, especially during the years when the far-right Freedom Party of Austria was in government with the conservative Austrian People's Party.

There was the “Episagat” case, in which former Austrian Freedom Party head and Deputy Prime Minister Heinz-Christian Strache was convicted for trying to make a corrupt deal with a Russian investor. Also noteworthy is the dance that former Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl performed with Russian President Vladimir Putin at her wedding.

This new story of large-scale espionage appears to be of a completely different order. However, intense spying has been going on in Austria for decades. Since the Cold War, when Austria in central Europe remained neutral, Vienna has been called the spy capital of Europe. Intelligence services from both East and West can operate relatively unimpeded.

Espionage remains unpunished in Austria, unless the Austrian state itself is the target. Espionage directed against other countries or against various international organizations based in Vienna is not expressly prohibited. The International Atomic Energy Agency or the administrative center of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is located, among others, in Vienna. The presence of all these impunity diplomats increases the attractiveness of the Austrian capital for spies.

Recently, calls have increased to tighten the country's espionage laws, especially since other European intelligence services are suspicious of the situation in Austria.

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