Germany has summoned the U.S. ambassador after more news about allegations of American spying. This further threatens to damage the relationship with one of Washington’s most important alliances.
The German federal prosecutor publicized that a 31-year-old German was seized on allegations of working for foreign intelligence agencies. This man was employee at the German foreign-intelligence agency, also known as the BND, according to two people with information about the matter.
The employee originally created suspicions because he supposedly attempted to reach out to Russian spies, but then told investigators he had been submitting information to U.S. intelligence, one person said.
The people who were briefed about the investigation prudently stated that this man’s ties to U.S. intelligence haven’t been irrefutably established.
However, the suspicions were grave enough that Chancellor Angela Merkel was informed and several members of the parliament were briefed.
Violent reactions in the media made it apparent the accusations were already creating another wound to the U.S.-German relationship—an alliance vital to matters as varied as the Ukraine crisis and intercessions for a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement.
“This is a very serious development,” a spokesman for Ms. Merkel has stated. “The government will now await the conclusions of the federal prosecutor and federal criminal police’s investigation.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Stephan Steinlein has advised the U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson in their Fourth of July assembly to assist in clearing up the issue rapidly, a ministry statement said.
U.S. officials in Washington and Berlin have refused to comment regarding the matter.
The relationship between the U.S. and Germany are still hurting after last year’s revelations of National Security Agency actions and U.S. listening in of Ms. Merkel’s cellphone. The exposure by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has hit a particular nerve in a country intensely insightful to domestic spying because of its past account with Communist and Nazi mass surveillance.
In one principally explosive allegation, a number of German media outlets reported that the captured man may have sold information to the U.S. about a recently launched parliamentary investigation of NSA surveillance programs.
“If the suspicion of a targeted attack on a German constitutional body is confirmed, just one year after the first Snowden disclosures, that would set the level of trust back to zero and result in political consequences,” said Christian Flisek, a Social Democrat lawmaker and co-chairman of the NSA inquiry.
Ms. Merkel’s spokesman has refused to say whether she raised the matter with President Barack Obama in a phone call regarding the Ukraine crisis they had just made.
The allegations cause fresh domestic political dilemma for Ms. Merkel because of her pro-U.S. line.
The German chancellor has attempted to suppress public outrage over the NSA allegations. She has positioned Germany on the side of Washington in the Ukraine crisis, in spite of public doubt, and has joined Mr. Obama in pressurizing sanctions. She persists in continuing to aim for a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement being negotiated this year. This a deal that is significant to American business but faces strong opposition in Germany.
“If the suspicion of spying on the parliamentary inquiry is confirmed, it will be a giant debacle for the BND and the federal government,” said Katrin Göring-Eckardt, parliamentary leader of the opposition Greens.