It is nine years since the Berlin Wall was torn down. Yet Germany's counter-intelligence services are still fighting battles straight out of Europe's Cold War past. Earlier this year the military security service, known by the German acronym MAD, stumbled across a spy in the army's own ranks, selling sensitive information to the Russians. Using sophisticated, computer-aided decoding techniques to perform an operation most civilian radio audiences would recognise as twiddling the short-wave dial at random, a MAD officer picked up a message from Moscow. It was a series of instructions telling the agent where to leave his documents. When the spy turned up as instructed, MAD was there to arrest him. Most of Europe's cloak-and-dagger stories are more prosaic. Industrial, not military, espionage is the name of the game. And Germany, especially the former Cold War battleground of Berlin, is still the central target for the Russian secret services - not to mention the American, French, Middle Eastern and even Chinese espionage agencies, which are all snooping on Europe's biggest industrial power. Late last month, Berlin interior ministry secretary Kuno Boese warned that foreign agencies were stepping up their work ahead of next year's transfer of the federal capital and all the foreign embassies from Bonn to Berlin. Claiming the city's status as a centre for commerce and scientific research made it a prime target for East European and Middle Eastern spies, he said countries such as Syria, Iran and Iraq were as determined to get a foothold in the new capital and exercise influence over their own nationals working here as they were to gather sensitive information. His federal counterpart, interior ministry secretary Kurt Schelter, recently presented a report to parliament claiming China and the developing countries of the former Soviet Union were 'gathering technical know-how' and product information, mainly to cut the cost of producing highly competitive copies of German goods. And in a secret report, leaked to the press earlier in the month, the Federal Constitutional Protection Agency (BfV) claimed the various successor agencies to the former Soviet Union's feared KGB are competing fiercely among themselves on German soil. Although the report was largely focused on the Russian military espionage agency, the GRU, it said at least 150 spies from various Russian services had been uncovered in Germany since the end of the Cold War - far more than in Britain or France. It said the Russians were particularly keen to get their hands on microelectronics, genetic technology, high performance materials and computer hardware and software. The worse the economic situation in Russia, the more intensive the spying, the report claimed, with the agencies forced to sell information commercially to finance their operations. Meanwhile, in the Russian embassy, consulates and trade offices, in the thousands of Russian trading companies and joint ventures established in Germany since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the spying continues unabated. The BfV report claimed there were at least 60 active Russian spies at work for the GRU alone. Many entered Germany on false papers, although the government has quite a strong record of refusing Russians entry if their documents are suspect. It said Moscow deliberately expanded its network in the West after the end of the Cold War in an all-out effort to put as many spies in place as possible before the final departure of Russian troops from East Germany. Spies were trained in the Soviet barracks in East Berlin as late as 1994. 'We helped the Russians financially, and they return the favour by spying on us,' a BfV officer told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily. The BfV's highly sensitive report languished for nearly a year in Chancellor Helmut Kohl's office, before some of its conclusions finally filtered out this summer in a statement from the Interior Ministry warning the parliament's security committee that Russian and Chinese spies were particularly active in industrial espionage. The whole subject of spies has long aroused acute embarrassment in Germany, partly because of the chancellor's personal good relations with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung claims the government even turned down a BfV call to expel more than 100 Russian agents in 1995, saying the agency was a nest of Cold Warriors. Concern for Mr Yeltsin and good trading relations with Russia may be fading in the present climate. Equally embarrassing, however, and probably more damaging in the long term, may be that other Western services suspect the German security services and civil service have been thoroughly compromised. Volker Foertsch, the former head of counter-espionage at the internal security service, the Bundesnachrichtendiest (BND), was recently forced to step down over suspicions he might be a Russian mole. Although cleared of any wrongdoing, he took early retirement rather than be shunted aside to head the agency's spy school. Russian spy networks, established when agents working for communist East Germany doubled as middle-men for Soviet operations in the West, have continued to function, often with the same personnel. The police Federal Criminal Bureau (BKA) - Germany has its own bewildering array of competing security services - reported as far back as 1996 that many former agents of the notorious East German State Security Service (Stasi) were still working for Moscow and that Russia was mobilising every contact it could rouse. With no language barrier, the Stasi was able to infiltrate its agents virtually anywhere in the West. Subsequently, some of the same agents set up shop in the newly democratic regional governments of the former East Germany. East Germany no longer exists, but the legacy of nearly half a century of distrust and ideological competition cannot be wiped out overnight. Moreover, many former East Germans are bitter at the way the West has taken over the country commercially and politically, in a process many feel is akin to colonisation. Earlier this summer, the security services revealed that a senior official of the regional administration in the eastern German state of Thuringia had been working for the Russian secret service, the SWR. The official, known only as Herbert-Heinrich M., had previously spied for the KGB in similar positions in West Germany. But Germany has other reasons to be sensitive about spying. 'Friendly' nations, including France, the United States and Britain, the former occupying powers in West Berlin, and the powers which saved the city from Soviet domination during the Cold War, have not always been above spying on their German allies. Earlier this summer, it was revealed three Germans were on trial for selling military secrets gleaned from the Russian withdrawal to British intelligence. The trial almost immediately went into closed session, not least because the BND had amateurishly failed to protect its informants' identities. Washington has consistently refused to reduce its intelligence establishment in Germany, claiming the numbers are needed for the security of American NATO troops, especially during NATO's eastward expansion. Germany is also the base for US Iran and Iraq-watching. But last year, Germany made post-war history by asking the Americans to withdraw a CIA agent, Peyton Humphries, officially a second secretary at the US embassy in Bonn, who was caught trying to recruit a senior trade ministry official to hand over information about German trade and nuclear co-operation with Iran. Friendly nations' unfriendly behaviour extends far beyond such political and military areas. Mr Schelter's report to parliament made it plain that developing nations were not the only ones involved in industrial espionage. Commercial information, pricing and marketing strategies, information on joint ventures were all grist to the spies' mill, said the report, although Mr Schelter was diplomatic enough not to name names. The French secret service, the DGSE, is best known in Germany for its espionage coup in allegedly listening in on negotiations between the German industrial giant Siemens and South Korea for the sale of its fast train system, the ICE, and passing on the details to the French competition. France was able to undercut Siemens and sell South Korea the TGV fast train instead. German reports suggest the US and Britain are reportedly involved in joint data collection operations designed to help their companies beat the competition. And one regional branch of the BfV reports that 62 per cent of all foreign spying is for commercial information. At present, the focus is on the resurgence in Russian activities. But tension between Germany and Washington or Paris over commercial espionage is never far below the surface. Bonn's ambassador to Washington, Juergen Chrobog, has already made a mild protest to the State Department, pointing out that Germany was a sovereign country and it was time the Americans stopped treating it like their own backyard. A more muscular protest would have to follow the next clumsy American move.