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GERMANY’S conservative government took the rare step yesterday of showing its open dissatisfaction with Washington by kicking out the top US intelligence official in Berlin.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was driven to take dramatic action after two allegations of US spying in Germany and the year-long saga over eavesdropping by the US National Security Agency (NSA).
The decision reflects growing anger in Germany at apparent US indifference to being caught spying on a close ally.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the decision to expel the official had been taken “against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the questions that were posed months ago about the activities of US intelligence agencies in Germany.
He added that Germany continues to seek “close and trusting” co-operation with its Western partners, “especially the United States.”
Chancellor Merkel had noted earlier that Germany and the US had “very different approaches” to the role of intelligence agencies.
She stressed the need for greater trust between allies, which she has done repeatedly since the revelation last year that the NSA had eavesdropped on her mobile phone.
In separate cases over the past 10 days, one man has been arrested and an investigation launched against another on suspicion of working for US intelligence.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that talks were taking place with Washington at various levels.
“If the situation remains what we know now, the information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable. However, the political damage is already disproportionate and serious,” he said.
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