World / Europe

Germans angry over second US spy suspect

By Agencies in Berlin and Washington (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-11 07:05

German politicians reacted angrily on Wednesday to news of a suspected US spy in the Defense Ministry, a disclosure coming only days after the arrest of a German foreign intelligence agency worker who is suspected of being a CIA informant.

After the authorities conducted searches in connection with the second alleged spying case, Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partners said Washington should remove any US embassy staff involved and cease spying on its ally.

Security sources said the latest suspect was from the military and worked in the Defense Ministry in Berlin, but no arrest appeared to have been made. Other sources close to the investigation said the suspect was a German Foreign Ministry official on assignment at the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry confirmed that its premises had been searched but gave no other details.

"It is not yet clear what is behind this," Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

Merkel has already said the arrest last week of a low-level official of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, known as the BND, for spying for the United States would, if confirmed, be a "serious case". But she also says it will not affect trans-Atlantic free trade talks.

The chancellor faces political fallout for not criticizing US President Barack Obama sufficiently over alleged surveillance in Germany by the US National Security Agency, which targeted her mobile phone for eavesdropping. The new cases put additional pressure on Merkel to react.

Merkel confirmed earlier that her intelligence services coordinator spoke by phone with CIA chief John Brennan, and a senior German Foreign Ministry official met for a second time in five days with US Ambassador John B. Emerson on Wednesday.

Yasmin Fahimi, general secretary of the Social Democrats, who share power with Merkel's Christian Democrats, urged the "immediate removal of embassy staff involved and the immediate cessation of all other espionage in our country".

Von der Leyen, who is from Merkel's party, said the NSA case had "shaken confidence" in the US, and it had to be made clear to the intelligence community that "not everything that is possible is politically acceptable".

The White House on Wednesday stayed mum on the alleged espionage, as German lawmakers vented their anger during a visit to Washington and criticized perceived indifference on this issue in the US.

"We find that our interlocutors have very little awareness of the problem," Norbert Roettgen, chairman of Germany's parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said after talks with members of Congress and national security officials.

Reuters - AFP

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