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Friday, November 18, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NATO Traitor Rupp Gets 12-Year Sentence

Washington Post

BERLIN - Rainer Rupp, who for more than a decade passed NATO's most sensitive military secrets to the Soviet bloc, was convicted of treason yesterday and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Rupp's British-born wife, Ann-Christine Rupp, who had helped her husband collect and photograph top-secret documents early in his espionage career, also was found guilty and received a 22-month suspended sentence from a Duesseldorf court.

"I realize now that what I did was more wrong than I had been ready to admit," said Rupp, 49, who was known to East German handlers by the code name Topaz. "I did wrong, and I'm prepared to pay for it."

Presiding Judge Klaus Wagner said, "The accused enabled NATO's opponents to assess reliably the military potential and weaknesses of Germany and its allies - both their operational capacity and the quality of their intelligence."

The suspended sentence for Ann-Christine Rupp, 46, was in line with the recommendation by the federal prosecutor. She has been caring for the couple's three young children at their home in western Germany.

Both Rupps faced life in prison after their arrest in July 1993, but German courts have shown leniency in espionage cases since the collapse of East Germany in 1989 and the end of the Cold War. Wagner said Rupp argued convincingly that he was motivated by ideology, not money, and the judge fined the couple 300,000 marks ($193,000) - considerably less than the estimated $477,000 they collected from the East German Stasi secret police.

Two former Stasi officers who were Topaz case officers were convicted of treason yesterday and given two-year suspended sentences.

Rupp is a West German who worked in the economics section of NATO headquarters in Brussels. His treason included delivery to the Communists of virtually every significant NATO document that crossed his desk in 1977-89.

Rupp's arrest revealed remarkable laxness within one of the West's most sensitive security operations. Rupp recounted to the court the ease with which he smuggled briefcases crammed with secret documents through NATO's ostensible security controls. He then photographed the files in his wine cellar.

His wife initially helped with espionage operation, providing documents she was able to purloin after landing a job as a secretary in NATO's headquarters in 1971.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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