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Germany: new accusations against the former director of IT security

A department director of the Ministry of the Interior pointed out that Arne Schoenbohm had publicly commented on cybersecurity issues in the Armed Forces that did not fall within his area of ​​responsibility, but that of the Ministry of Defense


© Agenzia Nova - Reproduction reserved

The former director of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Arne Schoenbohm, is the subject of new charges after those of contacts with Russian intelligence, which caused his dismissal in 2022. Based on rumors spread by the television broadcaster "Zdf", these suspicions led German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser to remove the official from his position in 2016. The federal government representative justified this choice by claiming that the relationship of trust with Schoenbohm had broken down, in particular following the war waged by Russia against Ukraine.

Furthermore, “serious technical differences” had arisen with Schoenbohm in assessing the danger of Russian cyberattacks against Germany. With reference to the "Zdf" indiscretions, which proved to be unfounded, Faeser declared that "they were not the only factor" in the dismissal of the BSI director. Now, as the broadcaster “Ard” reports on the basis of a document from the German Interior Ministry, further suspicions against Schoenbohm have emerged, which may have played a role in his removal from the agency's top management.

In the summer of 2022, a BSI executive sent a complaint to the ministry in which she raised “significant allegations” against Schoenbohm for his “leadership behavior and lack of consideration for equality issues”. The official dismissed these criticisms as “blatant and general, not based in fact.” The former director of Bsi he would then lead a series of autonomous initiatives, such as when he asked the Budget Committee of the Bundestag for funds to establish a service headquarters in the Saarland, "contrary to the expressed wish" of the Ministry of the Interior. Schoenbohm is then accused of “lack of political sensitivity” because in January 2022, shortly before the start of Russia's war against Ukraine, he distributed “an unapproved report” with statements on the possible consequences of a Russian invasion on the situation of information security. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the document could be interpreted as a declaration by the federal government.

The ministry also mentions “excessive work with the press” by the BSI when it was directed by Schoenbohm. Already in 2020, the Ministry of the Interior had asked in writing the then director of the agency to refrain from issuing "any statement to the press" not agreed in advance, unless it concerned the ordinary administration of the BSI. To justify this, a department director of the Ministry of the Interior pointed out that Schoenbohm had publicly commented on cybersecurity issues in the Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), which did not fall under his responsibility, but that of the Ministry of Defense. Schoenbohm is finally accused of "insufficient cooperation" with his relevant ministry. Since January 2023, the former director of the BSI has been president of the Federal Academy for Public Administration. (Bakov).

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