The CIA station chief at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin has been told to vacate his post by the German government.
The U.S. intelligence official was not officially expelled or labeled “persona non grata,” but this is still a rare instance of anger from one western ally toward another and is the direct result of the alleged cases of U.S. spying taking place on German soil.
“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the Embassy of the United States of America has been requested to leave Germany,” stated German government spokesman Steffen Seibert adding that the move occurred “against the backdrop of the ongoing investigations of the Federal Prosecutor General as well as the questions pending for months about the activities of the U.S. intelligence services in Germany.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reportedly outraged by allegations of U.S. surveillance in Germany especially the actions of the National Security Agency (NSA) and its now infamous contractor, Edward Snowden. Merkel’s own cellphone was a target of the operation, reportedly for over a year. Last week saw the arrest of German intelligence official on suspicion of selling secrets to the CIA.
“The federal government takes these incidents very seriously,” stated Seibert. “It remains vital for Germany, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its forces abroad, to cooperate closely and trustfully with western partners, in particular with the USA. To do so, however, mutual trust and openness are necessary. The federal government continues to be ready for this and expects the same from its closest partners.”
So far, there has been no official response from the U.S. government, although White House press secretary Josh Earnest stated that all matters related to intelligence are taken “very seriously.”
Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) offered a guarded response to the escalating U.S. spy scandal in Germany.
“Our security and intelligence relationship with Germany is a very important one and it keeps Germans and Americans safe,” NSC representative Caitlin Hayden told CBS News. “It is essential that cooperation continue in all areas and we will continue to be in touch with the German government in appropriate channels.”
U.S. officials have been asked to leave other countries in the past, but always from nations with which the U.S. shared a fairly volatile relationship. Germany has expelled foreign diplomats from Syria, Libya and Iran since 1991.
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