Oktoberfest, the annual German celebration of all things beer, typically attracts all types of tourists to soak up the country's brewing culture by consuming golden suds from giant steins. But there is apparently another demographic that has visited Germany to participate in the carousing: international spies.
A group of covert agents from around the world was invited by Germany's foreign intelligence agency to do nothing more than get drunk at Oktoberfest, and the bill was footed by German taxpayers, a new report found, according to European news outlet the Local. The Bundesnachrichtendienst, which is Germany's equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency in the U.S., provided 50 euros, or a little less than $56, to each of the spies invited and in some cases paid for their lodging, the Local reported.
While it was immediately unclear how many spies in total were invited, the report compiled by the Taxpayers Association of Europe aims to bring more attention to wasteful government spending at the German citizens' expense. Other examples provided by the Taxpayers Association were funding a soccer stadium for an underachieving team and developing a smartphone app for nearly $500,000 that directs users to the graves of famous people, despite negative reviews.
Oktoberfest typically brings around 7 million visitors to various German cities and is a big part of the country's tourism industry. But Germany this year has been experiencing a mass influx of refugees from conflict in Middle Eastern and North African countries, and the government has promised it will accommodate up to 800,000 people seeking asylum.
While the refugee crisis was not highlighted in the Taxpayers Association of Europe's report, some in Germany have decried the open welcome as a strain on local and national resources, which will cost taxpayers dearly, reported Reuters.
"The welcome party in Munich, Berlin and elsewhere was nice," the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote this week, according to Reuters. "But now the light has gone on and everyday life goes on."