Germany probes spy suspect as U.S. Espionage Reports make news
German authorities are pursuing an espionage probe against a man identified by media as a German intelligence officer who may have passed secrets to the U.S.
Federal prosecutors said yesterday that a 31-year-old German was arrested on July 2 on suspicion of spying for an unidentified foreign power. ChancellorAngela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, called the case “a serious matter,” declining to elaborate.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, citing government officials it didn’t identify, reported today that the man in custody is suspected of informing U.S. agents about an inquiry by German lawmakers into the National Security Agency.
The emergence of a double agent on top of two German probes into NSA surveillance and espionage threatens to compound a U.S.-German rift after allegations that the NSA spied on citizens and hacked Merkel’s mobile phone. U.S. Ambassador John Emerson was called in to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin today to help with “an investigation” by federal prosecutors.
“I expect this issue to be thoroughly clarified,” Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary caucus leader of the Social Democrats, told reporters in Berlin. If allegations that the U.S. sought information on the probe prove true, “this would be an unheard-of attack on the freedom of our parliament.”
Merkel, who governs in a coalition with the Social Democrats, and President Barack Obama spoke by phone yesterday to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and call for a cease-fire. Seibert said the German parliament’s intelligence oversight committee has been informed of the allegations.