BERLIN — Jeffrey Carney is a spy left out in the cold — spurned by his adopted homeland, where his former East German masters are out of power, yet desperate to escape his native United States, which he betrayed for 12 years.
Seven months after being released from an American prison, where he served 11 years of a 20-year sentence for spying, the former U.S. military communications officer has been told that Germany does not want him back.
He had been granted citizenship by East Germany, along with a new name, Jens Karney, and was automatically given full German citizenship after reunification in 1990. But the passport that came with it expired while he was in jail and German authorities refused to issue a new one.
Mr. Carney, who sees himself as a victim of the Cold War, has been eking out a living in Ohio while he struggles to change the Germans’ minds. He mows lawns and cuts plastic in a factory for a little more than $8 an hour. Last week, to stave off loneliness, he bought a cat.
“I don’t much like America. I’m lonely,” Mr. Carney, 39, said by telephone from an undisclosed address in Ohio. “I would much rather live in Germany where they understand people like me.”
Nineteen years ago, he was one of East Germany’s most successful spies, code-named “The Kid” by the Stasi security service. He handed over U.S. military documents while working in West Berlin.
Among the secrets he supplied were details of an American plan to cripple Soviet communication lines in the event of hostilities.
The East Germans awarded him a medal and helped him defect to East Berlin in 1984. He was given a pension, an apartment, a car and a new identity.
Jens Karney still would be living quietly in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain had it not been for the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In 1991, the Americans received a tip from a Stasi officer, and he was seized by U.S. agents outside his apartment in a covert operation.
Within days, he was aboard a plane bound for the United States. In November of that year, he was convicted of four counts of espionage and desertion from the U.S. armed forces and sentenced to 20 years.
Mr. Carney, who admitted his spying career was wrong, said he was no longer bitter about having been betrayed by a former comrade. “The Stasi officer was doing exactly the same thing as I did during my career as an East German agent — betraying people,” he said.
He is, however, indignant at the German government’s refusal to grant him the citizenship rights that have been given automatically to thousands of other former East German agents who spied on the West.
The German authorities said Mr. Carney’s East German passport disguised his true identity, and accused him of securing his full German passport under false pretenses.
Last week, German officials told Mr. Carney that his only option was to go to court. “All he can do is take legal action,” said an interior ministry spokesman.