The head of the German intelligence service (BND), Ernst Uhrlau, referred on Friday to the role his agents played in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, hailing the operation as a "huge success".
Speaking on ARD public television, Uhrlau - who had aided Israel in talks geared at retrieving former IDF officer Elhanan Tannenbaum from Hezbollah captivity in 2004 - said that "the BND was entrusted with the task of supporting (the mission) with particularly qualified, experienced colleagues, who know the Middle East well."
"If we achieved a result that will shortly see Shalit return to his family after five and a half years, then that is a huge success," he said, "and if Germany and the BND played a part in that, then that makes us proud.
Uhrlau refused to elaborate further on the operation. "Please understand that we are talking about a humanitarian action that we have been involved in for a long time and we cannot talk about the details," he said.
Earlier on Friday, intelligence official warned that the situation was still fragile until the terms of the deal take place on the ground.
The German officials were asked about the role of Iran and Syria in the process, but they denied any involvement by the two countries.
As the plans appear now, Shalit will be taken from the Gaza Strip into Sinai and from there into Israel through one of the border crossings with Egypt. Once he reaches Sinai, the Israelis will release 27 female Palestinian security prisoners. When Shalit enters Israel after five years in captivity, 450 major prisoners, whose identities have already been agreed on between Israel and Hamas, will be released.
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