Spies and their Translators

Translators in the news again and this time it involves high treason: Interpreters and translators often have access to sensitive and confidential information, which is why it is quite common to sign a confidentiality agreement before starting a project. But what if the client is an agent working for a national intelligence agency and what if the translator is working in intelligence too, as a spy?

Translation is sometimes jokingly referred to as the ‘second oldest profession in the world.’ It is certainly as ancient as language itself. But spying is also sometimes called the ‘second oldest profession in the world’ since hiding and sharing of information is also as ancient as language. So how old is the combination of the 2? The question is whether he is a spy who translates or a translator who spies?

Yesterday Spiegel Online reported on a man, who while working undercover as an agent for German intelligence (the BND: Bundes Nachrichten Dienst) passed on very sensitive material to his translator with full knowledge that the translator had ties to organized crime and possibly other foreign intelligence agencies. The intimate relationship between the 2 men is allegedly the explanation for the breach. Either way it is known as treason and both men have now been taken into custody.

Click here to see the full article in German.

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