Germany’s government requested the United States’ chief intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country on Thursday in connection with an investigation into US spying activities in Germany.
“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 US intelligence services in Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
The White House declined to comment on the German government’s request, but stressed the importance of continued cooperation between the two countries.
“We have seen these reports and have no comment on a purported intelligence matter. However, our security and intelligence relationship with Germany is a very important one and it keeps Germans and Americans safe,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
“It is essential that cooperation continue in all areas and we will continue to be in touch with the German government in appropriate channels,” she added.
The move to expel the American intelligence official comes amid outrage in Germany over two recently reported cases of suspected US espionage in the country.
Just last week, authorities arrested a 31-year-old man who worked as a low-level employee at Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, on suspicion of gathering intelligence for the United States.
Days later, news broke of a second suspected US spy, this time reportedly within the country’s Defence Ministry, although no arrests have been made thus far.
Earlier on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her disappointment over the alleged espionage.
“From my point of view, spying on allies... is a waste of energy. We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things,” Merkel said in some of her strongest comments yet on the subject at a news conference with visiting Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca.
She said the priorities should include dealing with challenges in Syria and fighting terrorists and that confidence between allies should be strengthened.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-10