Suspended sentence for German who spied for Egypt
Egypt-born Amin K., 66, admitted to having exploited his privileged position in the office to pass on information to Egypt's General Intelligence Service (GIS) between 2010 and 2019.
"The defendant pleaded guilty", said a spokeswoman for the regional court of appeals in Berlin.
The sentence, which was handed down last week, was the result of an agreement reached between K.'s defence lawyers and the state prosecutors.
The 66-year-old had worked since 1999 for the visitor service of the federal press office, which among other things is responsible for communicating Merkel's activities.
According to the charge sheet, he supported the intelligence services "on behalf of the Egyptian embassy" and had "largely conspiratorial" contact with his handlers.
He made observations about media coverage of Egypt-related domestic and foreign policy issues in Germany, as well as events such as a demonstration in Berlin in 2018 and a raid on a mosque whose imam had links to Egypt.
In 2014 and 2015, he also helped in a failed attempt to recruit a translator for the German parliament's language service as another source and handed over the names of five Syrian-born colleagues at the press office.
Investigators did not find evidence that K. was paid directly for his espionage. He allegedly hoped to win preferential treatment from the Egyptian authorities and succeeded in securing help with his mother's claim to her pension payments.
Appearing as a witness at the trial, K.'s former manager at the press office said the 66-year-old was only responsible for sending visitor's programmes and would not have had access to any sensitive information.
"We simply could not have imagined that he was spying for Egypt," he told the court.
The case came to light with the publication of a German intelligence service report in 2019.
According to the report, both the GIS and Egypt's domestic intelligence service NSS are active in Germany.
Their main objective in the country is allegedly to gather information on dissident groups opposed to Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's government, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.