Monday

27th Jun 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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."

Merkel and Obama bury hatchet on US spying

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama on Friday are poised to mend ties after the exposure of her phone being tapped and millions of Germans spied upon by the NSA.

News in Brief

  1. Possible terror attack halts gay pride in Norway
  2. Belgian PM: Gas shortage requires joint response
  3. Bulgarian MPs set conditions for lifting enlargement veto
  4. Latvia: We need a brigade-size Nato force to 'feel safe'
  5. Deal reached on controversial energy treaty reform
  6. EU carbon emissions from energy up 6% in 2021
  7. Germany step closer to gas rationing
  8. Albania: EU 'disgrace' at lack of enlargement progress

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. EU summit's uncertainty in the face of economic war
  2. Next winter's gas looms large at EU summer summit
  3. Ukraine becomes EU candidate after 120 days of war
  4. How to enhance EU cybersecurity
  5. Competing options for EU enlargement
  6. MEPs demand to exit 'ecocide treaty' after reforms 'fail'
  7. Finland optimistic in Turkey talks over Nato
  8. Hungary's global-tax veto seen as 'blackmail'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us