Friday

29th Jul 2016

US 'willing to talk' to Germany in latest spy dispute

  • The Snowden revelations already annoyed Merkel last year (Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler)

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will hold talks with his US counterpart, John Kerry, on the new spy dispute in the coming days, the US State Department has said.

Germany on Thursday (10 July) told a senior representative of the US intelligence service, the CIA, to leave the country - a move one step short of a full expulsion.

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 decision comes after two German officials - one from the German intelligence service BND and one in the defence ministry - were put under investigation for spying and selling secrets to the US intelligence services.

The CIA official invited to leave Germany is reportedly the key contact of the two double agents.

"We have so many problems, we should focus on the essentials. Spying on allies is such a waste of energy," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told press the same day in Berlin.

Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, confirmed the German government's decision in an official statement: "The government takes these activities very seriously. It is essential and in the interest of the security of its citizens and its forces abroad for Germany to collaborate closely and trustfully with its western partners, especially the US."

He added: “But mutual trust and openness is necessary. The government is still prepared to do so and expects the same of its closest partners”.

The CIA official’s eviction is the first retaliatory step from the German authorities in an ongoing affair which began last year with revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden that Merkel's phone was tapped and that the personal communications of millions of Germans are subject to surveillance by the US’ National Security Agency.

Clemens Binninger, a member of Merkel's party who chairs an intelligence oversight committee, said the action came in response to America's "failure to co-operate on resolving various allegations, starting with the NSA and up to the latest incidents".

There are few precedents for such measures among fellow Nato countries, but France in 1995 also sent home several US officials for spying.

The White House declined to comment.

"Any sort of comment on any reported intelligence acts would put at risk US assets, US personnel and the United States national security," its press secretary, Josh Earnest, noted.

"We do continue to be in touch with the Germans at a variety of levels, including through law enforcement, diplomatic and even intelligence channels," he added.

But a top Republican on the Senate’s intelligence committee, Saxby Chambliss, said the CIA is "concerned” about the German move.

"It's unusual for our station chief to be sent home by the host country”, he noted, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children