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Germany kicks out top U.S. spy over espionage claims

By Frank Jordans

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:03 p.m. HST, Jul 10, 2014


BERLIN » Germany on Thursday demanded Washington's top spy in Berlin leave the country as a new round of allegations of U.S. espionage worsened the friction between the two allies.

The immediate trigger was the emergence of two new cases of alleged American spying. They inflamed a furor that erupted last year when it was learned that the U.S. was intercepting Internet traffic in Germany and eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone calls.

More broadly, the move to kick out the CIA station chief appears to reflect a Germany out of patience with what it sees as a pattern of American disrespect and interference.

"The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the United States Embassy has been asked to leave Germany," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

"The request occurred against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the questions that were posed months ago about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany," he added. "The government takes the matter very seriously."

U.S. officials described Germany's action as extraordinary.

While agents have been expelled from time to time, usually by unfriendly powers, a former U.S. official said he couldn't remember an instance since the end of the Cold War in which the ranking intelligence official was asked to leave a country.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss intelligence issues publicly.

Germany refused to identify the CIA station chief by name. In the United States, it is illegal to disclose the name of an undercover operative.

Shortly before Thursday's announcement, Merkel told reporters that Germany and the United States had "very different approaches" to the role of intelligence agencies, and she insisted that any spying on allies is "a waste of energy."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest wouldn't comment on Germany's decision but said the U.S. takes intelligence matters "very seriously."

"I don't want you to come away from this exchange thinking we take this matter lightly," he said, adding that the U.S. and Germany continue to have a strong partnership.

The reports last year that the National Security Agency had targeted Merkel and Internet traffic have triggered a German criminal investigation and a parliamentary probe.

On Wednesday, German police raided properties in the Berlin area in what Seibert said was a case involving "a very serious suspicion" of espionage.

German media reported that the man being investigated worked at Germany's Defense Ministry in a department dealing with international security policy, and he had aroused suspicion because of his close contacts to alleged U.S. spies.

Last week, a 31-year-old German intelligence employee was arrested on suspicion of spying for foreign powers since 2012. German media have reported that he spied for the CIA.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he could not comprehend why the U.S. would spy on his country.

"We speak to each other all the time, and nobody keeps their views secret," he said in an interview published Wednesday by the Saarbruecker Zeitung.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the political fallout appeared to outweigh any harm done to Germany by the alleged spying.

"If the situation remains what we know now, the information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable," de Maiziere said in a statement. "However, the political damage is already disproportionate and serious."

Under the elaborate rules of international diplomacy, Germany's move to kick out the spy chief was a request two steps short of a formal expulsion.

In the past two years, Germany has also asked diplomats from Syria and Pakistan to leave the country.

Geir Moulson in Berlin, and Nedra Pickler and Ken Dilanian in Washington contributed to this report.







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false wrote:
What would be the Nobel prize category for this?
on July 11,2014 | 12:56AM
serious wrote:
Obama will get so mad he'll fly out for his 75th fundraiser of the year, he addicted--like an alcoholic except he jumps on AF One to avoid the problem.
on July 11,2014 | 02:50AM
mitt_grund wrote:
I remember being a volunteer for a young politician many, many years ago. We were sitting at the table in his campaign HQ. In front of us volunteers, he pointed to the stack of bumper stickers on the table. He suggested that he wouldn't be adverse to "an overzealous volunteer" plastering these on business windows throughout the business district. With the resulting publicity and his attributing the act to an "overzealous volunteer", it might put him over the top. Fortunately, that never happened, but he won handily. Then the next election, he promptly went from being a State Rep to wanting to be State Senator. He lost then.

Long story short, too many "overzealous" employees in the CIA, too many. Barry, you've got to rein them in. So what if this overzealousness resulted from the inability to uncover the 9/11 World Tower, etc., plot. It appears a bit unseemly to be going after Merkel's cell phone calls. What, we don't trust her because she was born in East Germany under Communist rule?


on July 11,2014 | 04:59AM
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