Tuesday

23rd Aug 2016

German-US relations strained by new spy scandal

  • Obama and Merkel in Berlin: The scandal is a new irritant in German-American relations (Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler)

Relations between Germany and the US are being strained by a new scandal after the arrest of a German spy who was allegedly also working for the American intelligence services.

The US ambassador was invited to give explanations at the German foreign ministry, after a 31-year-old employee of the German intelligence service (BND) was arrested last week for feeding information to a US agency for two years.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The German prosecutor-general confirmed last week that a man had been arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of acting for a foreign intelligence service.

According to unnamed BND officials quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, "all signs indicate that he was acting for the Americans."

The FAS and the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper said the man had worked for the CIA and had handed over more than 200 documents in return for €25,000. Among the documents is information on a parliamentary committee set up to investigate previous spying scandals.

The scandal is a new irritant in German-American relations.

"If the reports are correct, it would be a serious case. It would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday (7 July) during a press conference in Beijing.

Merkel's relations with the US have been on a rocky ride since last year when revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden put the National Security Agency (NSA) and US President Barack Obama on the spot for having tapped her phone and spied on millions of German citizens.

President Joachim Gauck and interior minister Thomas de Maiziere have also expressed their outrage and said the new allegations have to be clarified immediately.

But it is unlikely for Germany to take any retaliatory steps against the US, such as expelling some of its diplomats from Berlin.

Public opinion however is turning against the US, with 57 percent of Germans saying their country should be more independent from the US in its foreign policy decisions.

The White House has so far not commented on the scandal.

Presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton, during a book launch in Berlin over the weekend said the transatlantic relations should not be "jeopardised". But when asked if she would agree to a no-spy deal with Germany, Clinton said no, "irrespective of how closely befriended we are."

Opinion

A marriage of convenience

The West has nothing to fear from the convenient meeting of the minds between Erdogan and Putin. Both countries are strictly following their strategic national interests, which sometimes clash heavily - as can be seen in Syria.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. HuaweiMaking cities smarter and safer
  2. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  3. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  4. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  5. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  6. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  7. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  8. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  9. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  10. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  11. Counter BalanceThe Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  12. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016