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Security Chief Concerned About Russian Economic Espionage

Munich, June 4 (RFE/RL) -- The new chief of Germany's internal security service, Peter Frisch, has expressed concern about Russian economic espionage.

In an interview with the Munich newspaper "Suddeutsche Zeitung" today, Frisch gave no details of Russian economic espionage, but said it was "considerable." He said he was not concerned about foreign companies trying to discover the secrets of German companies to improve their competitiveness. But he says, the service does get involved when "foreign governments engage their intelligence services against us to improve their own economy -- and in Russia this is even stated in a law. We have to help our own economy."

Frisch's comments were made in the first interview he has given since his appointment last month as chief of the internal security service -- the federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. He succeeded Hansjoerg Geiger, who is now chief of Germany's foreign intelligence service. Geiger frequently warned about the growth of Russian economic espionage in Germany and other western countries.

Frisch, a social democrat, told the newspaper that the main duty of his service was the campaign against right-wing extremism. He said he considered this justified by Germany's past. He said German right-wing extremism and national socialism had brought so many calamities to the world.

He said he was also concerned about a possible islamic threat in Germany. " I do not mean Islam as a religion," he said "but the violent, fundamentalist form of Islam."