When the Vietnamese businessman Trịnh Xuân Thanh and his partner were kidnapped in Berlin’s Tiergarten in 2017, it quickly became clear that Vietnam’s secret service was behind it. The operation is meticulously prepared by professional agents. In the 393rd edition of the “Today important” podcast, ex-agent Leo Martin is not surprised by such methods: “We know very well how intelligence services work around the world. Adam and Eve operations, in which sexual partners play on target persons for many people only existed in James Bond films. That intelligence services worldwide, especially the totalitarian states, have always worked with such methods and of course do not shy away from pursuing oppositional or unpleasant people in western countries, that was relatively clear to an intelligence officer, always has been.”

Leo Martin worked for the German domestic secret service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, for ten years. “My job was to recruit shop stewards in the milieu of organized crime. We wanted to know: Who is at the top and places the orders, how do the business models change over time, the delivery routes, where does the dirty money end up going back to. And you don’t find out something like that via technical surveillance measures, not even from the guy with a clean slate, but you have to find someone who is in the milieu,” says Leo Martin at “today important”.

And such operations were often not without danger, especially when Leo Martin threatened to be exposed. Basically, during his time at the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, he had two principles that he adhered to: “If you want to build trust, it’s about clarity in communication, i.e. giving the other person the security of what he is with you. And the second thing is the basic need for appreciation and recognition.”

Leo Martin seems to have met his targets quite by accident. The agent has earned the trust of the other person through common hobbies and interests. Agent Martin was traveling under a different name and with an invented story, but a realistic story was required here, because: “The best legend is the one that is closest to the truth,” he says. So it had to be an area of ​​interest or a cover job that he knew well or that the other person had little idea about. And it was always important: “The trick is to practice respectful communication at eye level even when things don’t go according to plan, when there’s a lot of pressure.” Today Leo Martin gives lectures and training courses on forms of communication.

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