A man who works for a German lawmaker in the European Parliament has been arrested on suspicion of spying for China, prosecutors have said.

The suspect, identified only as Jian G in line with German privacy rules, was arrested on Monday in Dresden, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

They said he had worked for a German lawmaker in the European Union’s legislature since 2019.

Germany’s Maximilian Krah
Maximilian Krah, of the far-right Alternative for Germany, said he found out about the arrest from the press (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

Prosecutors did not identify the lawmaker, but Maximilian Krah of the far-right Alternative for Germany, who is his party’s top candidate in the European Parliament election in June, said in a statement that he had found out about the arrest of employee Jian G from the press on Tuesday.

“I do not have further information,” Mr Krah said.

He added that “spying activity for a foreign state is a serious allegation” which, if proven, would lead to the employee’s immediate dismissal.

Jian G, a German national, is accused of working for a Chinese intelligence service and of repeatedly passing on information on negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament in January.

Prosecutors also allege that he spied on Chinese dissidents in Germany.

German interior minister Nancy Faeser said the spying allegations were “extremely serious”.

“If it is confirmed that there was spying for Chinese intelligence from inside the European Parliament, then that is an attack from inside on European democracy,” Ms Faeser said in a statement.

“Anyone who employs such a staff member also carries responsibility,” she added.

“This case must be cleared up precisely … all the connections and background must be illuminated.”

News of the arrest came a day after three Germans suspected of spying for China and arranging to transfer information on technology with potential military uses were arrested in a separate case.

Chinese president Xi Jinping, second left, and German chancellor Olaf Scholz, second right, walk together in Beijing
German chancellor Olaf Scholz, second right, met Chinese president Xi Jinping, second left, in Beijing last week (Ding Haitao/Xinhua via AP)

Also on Monday, prosecutors in the UK said a former researcher working in Parliament and another man had been charged with spying for China.

Asked in Beijing about the latest arrest in Germany, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that “the recent reports in Europe about Chinese spying are all hyping up with an aim to smear and suppress China”.

Beijing urged “the relevant parties to stop spreading disinformation about China’s spy threat and stop political manipulation and malicious smears against China,” he added.

A week ago, German chancellor Olaf Scholz met China’s top leaders in Beijing at the end of a three-day trip to the country.

In a strategy for relations with China released last year, the German government pointed to a “systemic rivalry” with the Asian power and a need to reduce risks of economic dependency, but highlighted its desire to work with Beijing on challenges such as climate change and to maintain strong trade ties.

That document pledged “decisive action” to counter Chinese espionage activities.