Germany Asks Top U.S. Spy To Leave Country
In the wake of the spying allegations I wrote about yesterday, the German government has asked the top U.S. spy in Berlin to leave the country:
BERLIN — Germany took the dramatic step Thursday of asking the top U.S. intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country, following two reported cases of suspected U.S. spying and the yearlong spat over eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.
The move reflects growing impatience in Germany at what is perceived as U.S. nonchalance about being caught spying on a close ally.
“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the United States embassy has been asked to leave Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
“The request occurred against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the questions that were posed months ago about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany,” he said. “The government takes the matter very seriously.”
Seibert said Germany continues to seek “close and trusting” cooperation with its Western partners, “especially the United States.”
Shortly before the decision was announced, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that Germany and the United States had “very different approaches” to the role of intelligence agencies
In some respects, this is a purely symbolic move on Germany’s part since the person being asked to leave the country will ultimately be replaced and his departure would be unlikely to impede any ongoing operations. At same time, though, it’s a major step for an ally to take against another ally and another sign of just how deep the rift between the U.S. and Germany over intelligence issues could become if it isn’t dealt with in the near future.