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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More