German-US relations are facing a new test over a German intelligence employee who reportedly spied for the US, with Germany’s president saying if the allegations are true, that kind of spying on allies must stop.
Prosecutors say a 31-year-old German was arrested last week on suspicion of spying for foreign intelligence services, and that he allegedly handed over 218 documents between 2012 and 2014. German media, without naming sources, reported that he was an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service who says he sold his services to the US.
Germany’s foreign ministry has summoned the US ambassador to help clarify the case. The country’s top security official stepped up the pressure yesterday.
“I expect everyone now to assist quickly in clearing up the accusations — and quick and clear statements, from the USA, too,” interior minister Thomas de Maiziere was quoted as saying in Bild newspaper.
The issue threatens to strain German-US relations again after earlier reports that the National Security Agency spied on Germans, including on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
If it turns out the US “gave this kind of assignment to one of our intelligence employees, then it really has to be said: That’s enough now”, President Joachim Gauck said on ZDF television.
The head of a parliamentary committee investigating the activities of US and allied spies, Patrick Sensburg, said he has no information that documents from the panel were spied on, but government documents destined for the committee may have been.
The US Central Intelligence Agency and the NSA have declined to comment.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, said at a book presentation in Berlin that 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 co-operation which exists between us,” she said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved