News / Europe

Germany Asks Intelligence Official at US Embassy to Leave Country

FILE - General view of an empty office at the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND).
FILE - General view of an empty office at the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND).
Reuters

Germany has asked a U.S. intelligence official at the embassy in Berlin to leave the country in connection with investigations into suspected American spying, a German government spokesman said on Thursday.

"The request was made in light of the ongoing investigation by the chief federal prosecutor and questions that have been raised for months about the activities of U.S. intelligence services in Germany,'' Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

German politicians reacted angrily on Wednesday to news of a suspected U.S. spy in the defense ministry, which came days after the arrest of a German foreign intelligence agency worker as a suspected CIA informant.

After the federal prosecutors said authorities had conducted searches in connection with a second spying case, Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partners said Washington should remove any U.S. embassy staff involved and cease spying on its ally.

Security sources told Reuters the latest suspect to face investigation was from the military and worked at the Defense Ministry in Berlin, but no arrest appeared to have been made. Other sources close to the investigation said the suspect was a German Foreign Ministry official on assignment at the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry confirmed its premises had been searched but gave no other details.

"It is not yet clear what is behind this," Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, in an excerpt of Thursday's edition.

Merkel has already said the arrest last week of a low-level official of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, known as the BND, for spying for the United States would, if confirmed, be a "serious case". But she also says it will not affect transatlantic free trade talks.

The chancellor faces political fallout for not criticizing President Barack Obama sufficiently for alleged surveillance in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency, which targeted her mobile phone for eavesdropping. The new cases put further pressure on Merkel to react.

Yasmin Fahimi, general secretary of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Merkel's conservatives, urged the "immediate removal of embassy staff involved and the immediate cessation of all other espionage in our country".

Von der Leyen, who is from Merkel's party, said the NSA case had "shaken confidence" in the United States and it had to be made clear to the intelligence community that "not everything that is possible is politically acceptable".

'Deep differences of opinion'

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert acknowledged there were "deep differences of opinion" with the United States on how to balance the need for security with civil rights, though German officials stress they are heavily reliant on U.S. intelligence.

The 31-year-old BND agent arrested last week admitted to passing documents to a U.S. contact, including details of a parliamentary committee's investigation of former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's allegations of American spying in Germany.

The CIA and other U.S. government agencies declined to comment on the cases. However, U.S. officials acknowledged to Reuters that the CIA had been involved in recruiting the BND official as an informant, and did not dispute German media reports that his initial recruitment occurred two years ago.

On Wednesday, John Emerson, the U.S. Ambassador in Berlin, visited the German foreign ministry at his request to discuss the spy uproar, U.S. and German officials said.

A U.S. official said CIA director John Brennan also would be in telephone contact with Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, the foreign intelligence coordinator in Merkel's office.

Brennan has also briefed leaders of both the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence committees about the controversy.

U.S. officials confirmed that neither Obama nor Merkel mentioned the BND official's arrest, which occurred on July 2, in a telephone discussion they held on July 3. The officials did not dispute a New York Times report which said, at the time of the call, Obama had not been made aware of the alleged CIA informant's arrest in Germany.

More serious

The new spy case, reported on Wednesday, is believed to be more serious than last week's, Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said in an advance copy of Thursday's edition.

Ties between Berlin and Washington have been strained by Snowden's allegations and the opposition Greens said it was now even more important that he testify in person, rather than by video link, before the parliamentary committee probing NSA activities.

Merkel's conservatives are reluctant to bring him to Germany from asylum in Russia, which could anger the Americans who want Snowden to stand trial for treason.

Merkel said on Wednesday that there were talks with the United States, but she could not comment on their content.

Surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany, where the memory of the Nazi's Gestapo secret police and Communist East Germany's Stasi means the right to privacy is treasured.

After the Snowden revelations, Berlin demanded Washington agree to a "no-spy agreement," but the United States was unwilling to make such a commitment.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid