News / Europe

Germany Seeks Quick US Reply on Suspected Spy Case

FILE - The U.S.  flag flies  on top of the U.S. embassy in front  of the  Reichstag building  that houses the German  Parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany.
FILE - The U.S. flag flies on top of the U.S. embassy in front of the Reichstag building that houses the German Parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany.
VOA News

The German government wants a quick and clear explanation from Washington for U.S. intelligence's apparent contact with a German man arrested last week on suspicion of being a double agent, the Interior Minister said in a newspaper interview.

"I expect everyone to cooperate promptly to clear up these allegations - with quick and clear comments from the United States as well," Thomas de Maiziere told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, according to excerpts of its Monday edition.

The White House and State Department have so far declined to comment on the arrest of a 31-year-old employee of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency, who admits passing documents to a U.S. contact, according to intelligence and political sources.

Local media reported on Sunday that the man had been working for the CIA for around two years, the French news agency AFP reported.

NSA surveillance

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung and Bild am Sonntag said the suspect had passed on two documents about a parliamentary panel established earlier this year to investigate NSA surveillance after revelations by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, AFP reported.

The allegations have raised fresh tensions between the two allies.

"If reports are correct, we are not talking here about small potatoes," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a tweet, following reports of U.S. spying that have sparked anger in Germany after revelations the NSA allegedly tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

A parliamentary committee is looking into those allegations, revealed by  Snowden.

German ties with Washington have been sorely tested by revelations last year of large-scale snooping on Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency.

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

'That is enough'

Head of state Joachim Gauck, a former Protestant pastor and rights campaigner in the old German Democratic Republic, told German TV the NSA affair was "a vexing episode."

"If it really is the case that a service has been using an employee from our service in this way, we have to say: 'That is enough,' " the president said in a television interview to be broadcast later on Sunday.

De Maiziere, one of the cabinet ministers closest to Merkel, called it a "very serious case" which must be investigated fully to "gauge the scale of the alleged spying and especially answer the question of who was involved."

The U.S. ambassador was called in on Friday to hear Berlin's  request for an explanation and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday it was in Washington's own interests to help with the "quickest possible clarification of the facts."

It is not clear whether Merkel discussed it with President Barack Obama in their phone call on Thursday but her spokesman Steffen Seibert said: "We don't take the matter of spying for foreign intelligence agencies lightly."

One lawmaker on the committee investigating the NSA affair said the man arrested had no direct contact with the committee, whose meetings are confidential, and was "not a top agent.”

The suspect had offered his services to the United States voluntarily, intelligence and political sources said, and had been paid about 25,000 euros ($34,100) for passing on 218 BND documents to his unidentified American contact.

No-spy agreement attempted

After the Snowden revelations, Berlin demanded Washington agree to a "no-spy agreement" but the United States has been unwilling to make such a commitment. German officials also emphasize that they rely on intelligence from U.S. agencies.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council have declined to comment.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a book presentation in Berlin it's “a serious issue.”

“Let's find out what the facts are and then let's act appropriately, but also try to be careful not to undermine the necessary cooperation which exists between us,” she said.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs