The arrest of a German intelligence employee for allegedly spying for the US has caused an uproar among German politicians. The country’s foreign minister has demanded an immediate clarification of the situation from Washington.
“If the reports are true, then we’re not talking about
trifles,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on a visit to
Mongolia, DPA reports. He added that prompt clarification of the
details in the case were in the “US’s own interest.”
Earlier, US Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson was summoned to
the German Foreign Office to answer questions concerning the
recent arrest of a 31-year-old German foreign intelligence agency
(BND) employee, who confessed to having spied for the US.
German tabloid Bild reported that the man had been a double agent
for two years, during which time he exchanged bundles of secret
documents for €25,000 ($34,100).
The harshest reaction so far has come from German President
Joachim Gauck. If the spying allegations are confirmed, “one
really has to say, enough is enough,” he told the ZDF
Angela Merkel on Sunday expressed surprise and disappointment
over the possible involvement of US intelligence in the BND
espionage scandal, according to German businessmen, accompanying
her on her trip to China, Spiegel Online reports. She has not
made any comment so far, however.
Last October, Merkel was enraged to learn she was allegedly on
the NSA’s tapping list since 2002. The Chancellor called the
alleged spying, which became known thanks to Edward Snowden’s
A German parliamentary committee has been holding
hearings on the NSA’s spying activities in Germany.
Ironically, the classified materials from the hearings on US
spying could get into the hands of US intelligence, as they
allegedly were part of the documents stolen by the suspected
“If the suspicion of espionage is confirmed, that would be an
outrageous attack on our parliamentary freedom,” said Thomas
Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the SPD party, a coalition
partner of Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
Opposition parties have called for caution in future cooperation
with foreign intelligence agencies.
“All cooperation of the German security authorities with
friendly services needs to be reviewed,” Green Party leader
Katrin Göring-Eckardt told Spiegel Online.
The German government is demanding that the US replace its
employees at the Joint Intelligence Staff based in the US Embassy
in Berlin, Bild reports.
While most of the criticism is focused on the US, some believe
it’s the German leadership’s inability to react properly to the
NSA tapping leaks that’s led to the yet another spying scandal.
Merkel’s opponents have repeatedly blamed her for too mild a
response to the NSA global surveillance revelations.
“That’s a result of Merkel’s transatlantic hypocrisy,”
co-chair of the Left Party Katja Kipping said, Der Tagesspiegel