Friday

20th Jan 2017

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.

Kerry to EU: Believe in yourself

Outgoing US secretary of state gives EU short pep talk from Davos, hailing its peaceful and economic success. 'It's worked, folks', he said.

Moldova turns from EU to Russia

Moldova's president said he would like to scrap an EU treaty and has started preparations to join a Russia-led bloc.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Hollande thinking of EU council bid
  2. Italy to hold 70% of Monte dei Paschi bank
  3. Nato hit by 500 cyberattacks every month
  4. Hundreds of migrants face German security review
  5. Outgoing US vice-president warns Europe on Russia
  6. German far-right party calls for end to WWII guilt
  7. First Chinese freight train arrives in Europe
  8. Europe has no vision, says Italian minister

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey

Latest News

  1. 'Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany
  2. EU cannot copy Australia's offshore asylum model
  3. Brexit men launch anti-EU website
  4. Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
  5. IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit
  6. EP deal could help Tusk keep Council job
  7. UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey
  8. European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact'