The Soviet KGB has stepped up its espionage activities in Germany despite the new era of East-West friendship, a spokesman for Bonn's counterintelligence agency said Friday.

While political leaders hail the Cold War's end, Soviet spies continue to search for German defense secrets, desperately needed technological know-how and political information."It's cheaper to use the help of a spy agency to get the know-how than to buy it," said Hans-Gert Lange, spokesman for the German counterintelligence agency.

About 400 Soviet spies are working in former East Berlin, according to one leading newspaper.

In years past, Communist East Germany employed up to 8,000 spies to keep tabs on West Germany, and then passed on the information to its Warsaw Pact allies in Moscow.

That changed after the peaceful revolution in East Germany a year ago led to the unification with NATO member West Germany.

"The intensification is due to the fact that they (the Soviets) have to do more on account of the information deficit, and they are doing it," Lange said.

He is the spokesman for the Constitutional Protection Office, the government branch in charge of fighting foreign espionage agents.

Lange said the political upheaval that shook East Germany made the Kremlin even more eager to get intelligence information.

By law the spies should be rounded up and prosecuted, but the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper said German authorities for the most part are reluctant to make arrests because of the improved ties with the Soviet Union.