German authorities have asked a top U.S. intelligence official to leave the country citing a “failure to cooperate on resolving various allegations, starting with the NSA and up to the latest incidents”.
Earlier this week it emerged that the U.S. had allegedly recruited a German intelligence official as a double agent, in the latest blow to relations between the allies following revelations about American surveillance of German figures, including Angela Merkel, last year.
“The request was made against the backdrop of the ongoing investigations of the Federal Prosecutor General as well as the questions pending for months about the activities of the US intelligence services in Germany,” a German government spokesperson Steffan Seibert said.
Berlin police searched the home of a defence ministry employee, also suspected of passing information to Washington, yesterday. The U.S. embassy denied the investigation was related to the arrest of the alleged double agent earlier in the week.
“The [German] government takes these incidents very seriously,” Seibert said. “It remains vital for Germany, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its forces abroad, to cooperate closely and trustfully with western partners, in particular with the U.S.A.,” he added.
However the conciliatory language masks a hardening U.S.-German relations as German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere refused to rule out the possibility of German counter espionage against the U.S. for the first time since the end of World War II, urging “quick and clear statements from the U.S.A.".
German President Joachim Gauck was more direct. “That's enough now," he said addressing the U.S. on ZDF television.
Investigations into American spy activity on the German government were initially sparked after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked agency reports indicating the U.S. government had been bugging Angela Merkel’s phone.
The U.S. ambassador in Berlin John Emerson has already been summoned by the German government to explain the initial eavesdropping scandal, referring to the situation as a “difficult challenge” for relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile in Beijing, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry condemned Chinese cyber-espionage after it emerged that Chinese hackers had broken into government databases containing the personal data of federal employees.