Swedish pastor admits to serving as Stasi spy

Swedish pastor admits to serving as Stasi spy
A Church of Sweden pastor in the diocese of Luleå has admitted to having worked as an "elite spy" for the East German Stasi during the Cold War, according to a report in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily.

“I deeply regret the whole event and will work through my life story in the near future,” Aleksander Radler wrote in an email to DN.

In response to a direct question from the newspaper if her husband had worked for the feared East German secret service, Bettina Radler replied “yes”.

68-year-old Aleksander Radler is already the subject of a Church of Sweden investigation over reports that he served as a spy for the Stasi while working as a pastor in Burträsk in northern Sweden, a claim he has hitherto denied.

The investigation is being led by Church of Sweden lawyer Anna Wernqvist, who told The Local on Thursday that they are awaiting Radler’s response.

“The most important thing is what he is going to say to the cathedral chapter. He has received all the papers and we have a meeting in August,” she said.

Luleå cathedral chapter had previously considered the matter after Radler was implicated in a book by researcher Birgitta Almgren in October 2011. The investigation was however closed due to insufficient evidence.

In discussions with the bishop, Radler furthermore flatly denied the allegations forwarded in Almgren’s book, which was based on the Swedish Stasi files.

But following further revelations in a report based on the Stasi archives in the Expressen daily in April 2012, the Church of Sweden reopened the case against the pastor.

Anna Wernqvist visited the archives in Berlin and returned in no doubt that Aleksander Radler and the Stasi spy known as “IM Thomas” were the same person.

“According to the German authorities there is no doubt whatsoever that the pastor has handed over information to the Stasi,” Wernqvist said in a statement in June.

According to information in Thursday’s Dagens Nyheter report, Radler was part of the elite ranks of the Stasi which numbered 3,900 of a total 189,000 Stasi agents.

The newspaper cites a new report drafted by international Stasi expert Helmut Müller-Enberg which details Radler’s involvement in reports, which among other things, concerned defectors and escape routes from East Germany to Sweden.

The report contains signed receipts for payment and other handwritten notes which further established the link between Aleksander Radler and “IM Thomas”.

The Church of Sweden investigation will consider whether the retired pastor should be stripped of his licence to preach, although Anna Wernqvist does not expect him to face criminal charges.

“I am no criminal lawyer, but as I understand it he can’t be charged in East Germany because it wasn’t a crime there,” she told The Local.

“In Sweden, he has not been charged and even if the actions could have constituted an offence, it is so long ago that they would fall under the statute of limitations.”

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

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