US denies ‘Wild West’ swoop on Berlin-bound masks at airport

US denies 'Wild West' swoop on Berlin-bound masks at airport
The company Ber-Bek in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania lays out masks ready to be transported on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
The US embassy in Germany on Monday denied a claim that a Berlin-bound shipment of protective masks had been "confiscated" by the United States, calling it disinformation designed to stoke division.

“The United States Government did not take any action to divert any…supplies that were destined to Germany nor did we have any knowledge of such a shipment,” an embassy spokesman told AFP.

READ ALSO: Modern-day piracy: German official says US swooped on masks at airport

“We remain concerned about pervasive attempts to divide international efforts through unsourced, unattributed disinformation campaigns,” he added.

Berlin's regional minister of the interior Andreas Geisel on Friday said 200,000 highly sought-after FFP2 masks, made by an American firm in China and destined for use by Berlin police, were “confiscated” in Bangkok.

He accused the US of using “methods from the Wild West” and of carrying out an “act of modern-day piracy”.

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Geisel doubled down on the accusations on Monday morning, insisting that the masks had been redirected to the US.

“The fact is that we ordered a delivery and paid for it… our protective masks ended up in the USA. That is not OK,” he told public broadcaster ZDF.

German newspaper Bild said the shipment contained masks made in China by US firm 3M, one of the leading brands in the sector.

The company came under fire from US President Donald Trump last week, who claimed on Twitter that his administration “hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks”.

After a late start in procuring urgently needed protective gear, Trump recently invoked the Defense Production Act to make US firms divert resources to the battle against the pandemic.

Geisel faced criticism from media and opposition lawmakers in Berlin for failing to provide proof the US had grabbed the masks.

“The Berlin Senate is looking for a scapegoat to cover up its own inability to procure protective equipment,” said conservative regional MP Burkard Dregger.

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