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

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs