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Lured into fake phone call: Robert Habeck (2022 in Washington)


Britta Pedersen / dpa

Russian trolls specializing in disinformation have lured German Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) into a fake phone call. At the request of the dpa news agency, the Federal Ministry of Economics confirmed that there had been a corresponding conversation. According to the ministry, the caller pretended to be a representative of the African Union in the phone call.

Security-related or confidential information was not part of the conversation. This had been interrupted several times due to technical problems with the line, so that a coherent conversation had not been established. A four-minute recording published by the two trolls on Telegram is a compilation, according to a ministry spokesperson. Neither the overall conversation described, nor the questions asked there as well as the attached answers could be confirmed. In particular, the questions did not coincide with the memories of the conversation either in tone, in terms of the accent of the questioner or in their content.

In the alleged recording, Habeck can be heard calmly explaining in English that Ukraine should be helped to export its grain despite Russian attacks. The recording was published on the channel of the pro-Kremlin duo Vovan and Lexus. The two are known for so-called pranks of foreign politicians and other famous personalities. Among their victims were former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British ex-Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Shortly after the call, the ministry said it received information from the German intelligence services. They had pointed out that there had been a contact under a false identity and a resulting fake call to Habeck. The ministry then analysed the facts of the case and assigned them. The incident was taken as an opportunity to review and sharpen the existing safety loops.