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German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday for the first time touched on reports that a German intelligence employee spied for the US, declaring that if proven true they would mark a “clear contradiction” of mutual trust.
Prosecutors say that the employee is suspected of handing over 218 documents between 2012 and 2014.
National media, without naming sources, have reported he was an employee of the foreign intelligence service who says he sold his services to the US.
“If the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting co-operation between agencies and partners,” Ms Merkel said at a news conference in Beijing with Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
Berlin has been urging its transatlantic ally to come clean and clarify the situation.
This latest incident adds to ongoing embarrassment over the revelation that US spooks had been listening in on Ms Merkel’s mobile phone.
German newspaper Bild reported yesterday that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere wants to include the US among future German spy targets in response to the case.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that if the allegations of US involvement were true, the case could lead to unspecified changes in the two countries’ everyday relations.
“Should the suspicions be confirmed that US intelligence agencies were involved, then that’s also a political matter where one can’t just go back to the daily routine,” he said during a visit to Mongolia.
“We will work hard to answer the outstanding questions and then decide how to react,” he said.
“I hope that the US can contribute to resolving this matter as quickly as possible.”
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has designs on being the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, told Der Spiegel that Washington would never sign a commitment with any other nation not to spy on them, which Berlin has requested.
“The US will never sign a no-spy agreement with any other countries, not with you, not with Britain or Canada,” she said.
“But that doesn’t mean that the two countries and their intelligence agencies shouldn’t clarify what’s appropriate and what isn’t.”
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