• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Germany expels US spy station chief in Berlin

DPA/The Local · 10 Jul 2014, 16:39

Published: 10 Jul 2014 15:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Jul 2014 16:39 GMT+02:00

The chairman of the parliamentary committee which oversees the secret services, Clemens Binninger, announced the expulsion of the US intelligence agency's station chief in Berlin on Thursday.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert later said the spy chief had been ordered to leave. "The representative of the US intelligence services at the Embassy of the United States of America was asked to leave Germany," he said.

“The request was made in light of the ongoing investigation by the Attorney General as well as the months of unsolved questions around the activities of US intelligence agencies in Germany.

“The Government takes these acts very seriously. It remains essential for Germany, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its forces abroad, to work closely on a basis of trust with Western partners, especially the United States.

“But for that to happen, mutual trust and openness are necessary.”

The security services committee met for a special sitting on Thursday following the unmasking of two alleged US agents in the German security apparatus.

US spying in Germany was flagged up in 2013 by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who said Washington had carried out major surveillance in Germany, including tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
 
Merkel complained in person to US President Barack Obama about the incident last October. 
 
During her visit to China this week, the chancellor also referred to the current slew of uncomfortable revelations, saying that "it would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners".
 
Binninger said the expulsion was  "a reaction to the long-lacking cooperation in efforts to get to the bottom of this affair".

This was the first significant action that is known to have been taken against the United States after a stormy few weeks of recriminations and public outcry over US intelligence activities directed against Germany.

On Wednesday, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) searched the Berlin home of a reported army officer at the Ministry of Defence in an investigation into suspected intelligence gathering for the United States.

That case followed the arrest last week of an employee of Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, who allegedly sold more than 200 classified documents over two years to the CIA.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the US Embassy in Berlin said it had "seen the reports that Germany has asked US Mission Germany’s intelligence chief to leave the country".

"As a standard practice, we will not comment on intelligence matters," the statement said. "However, our security relationship with Germany remains very important: it keeps Germans and Americans safe.

"It is also essential that our close cooperation with our German government partners continue in all areas."

The US ambassador to Germany, John Emerson, was called into the German Foreign Office last week over the growing spate of spying scandals. He also had a meeting in the Foreign Office on Wednesday.

Story continues below…

It is thought to be the first time Germany has expelled a US spy station chief, although more junior operatives have reportedly been sent home in the past.

In 1996, a CIA officer attached to the US Embassy in Berlin was expelled after he was caught trying to obtain confidential information about German equipment sales to Iran’s nuclear industry. 

The case was leaked to the press and the resultant outcry ensured that the officer was put on a plane back to the States, according to the US news website The Daily Beast.

SEE ALSO: Germany slams 'stupid' US spying

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Brexit vote
Germans rally on Twitter to show love for UK
Photo: DPA

Twitter was swamped with tributes after Germany's largest liberal newspaper asked readers to show some love for Britain despite its vote to leave the EU.

German kidnaps Swiss child, raising online gaming fears
File photo: Rachel Johnson / Flickr Creative Commons.

A 12-year-old Swiss boy was allegedly abused by a German man he first met online.

'Hero' refugee hands in €150,000 he found in wardrobe
Muhannad and the secondhand wardrobe. Photo: Minden Police.

A refugee from Syria found a huge stash of money in a secondhand wardrobe he bought. But keeping it for himself would have been a betrayal of his religion, he said.

Istanbul airport bombing
Flights from Berlin to Istanbul cancelled after terror attack
Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. Photo: EPA.

All flights from Berlin's Tegel airport to Istanbul have been cancelled after a suicide bomb attack killed at least 36 people in the city's major airport.

German extremist groups 'getting bigger, more brutal'
A violent demo in Frankfurt in 2015. Photo: DPA

Political extremism rose sharply in Germany last year - among far-right but also far-left and Islamist radical groups - the domestic intelligence agency said Tuesday.

Berlin puts spies on tighter leash after NSA scandal
An installation of the BND in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Germany on Tuesday approved new measures to rein in the activities of its foreign intelligence agency after a scandal over improper collusion with the US National Security Agency.

Brexit vote
There's no way back for Britain, says 'sad' Merkel
Angela Merkel (r) and David Cameron in Brussels. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the EU summit in Brussels late on Tuesday that she didn't see any way that the British decision to leave the EU could be reversed.

Brexit vote
British business owner in Germany: why I support Brexit
Alexander McWhinney, owner of The English Shops. Photo: Private.

Scottish business owner Alexander McWhinney tells The Local why he supported the vote for a Brexit despite being an expat - much to the surprise of employees at his stores in the Rhineland.

Germany seeks seat on UN security council
The United Nations Security Council. Photo: DPA

Berlin last had a seat at the highest table of international security in 2011-12. Now the Foreign Minister has announced that Germany wants the role again.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Britain can’t cherry-pick Brexit terms
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the EU could survive a Brexit and warned Britain the union would not tolerate "cherry-picking" in upcoming negotiations on their future relations.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
7,865
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd