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German intelligence limits co-operation with US as spy row escalates

July 11, 2014, 16:04 UTC+3 BERLIN
This would not include areas that immediately affected German security interests such as security of the nation's soldiers in Afghanistan or terrorist threats
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© EPA/SOEREN STACHE / POOL

BERLIN, July 11. /ITAR-TASS/. German government authorities charged with secret service operations have ordered state intelligence services to reduce co-operation with American opposite numbers after an embarrassing spy scandal souring relations between Berlin and Washington.

Germany's popular tabloid newspaper Bild reported on Friday a new directive that co-operation would be cut to the minimum. This would not include areas that immediately affected German security interests such as security of the nation's soldiers in Afghanistan or terrorist threats, Bild said, quoting intelligence service officials in Berlin.

The directive was “a direct response” to a deepening transatlantic espionage scandal in which two German state employees are suspected of having spied for the US, the newspaper said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Thursday expelled the top US intelligence official in Berlin over allegations of espionage - a move described by experts as being similar to “capital punishment” in diplomatic relations between allied countries.

The US embassy official was asked to leave after the Federal Prosecutor began investigating spying practices, according to a statement from Merkel’s Chancellery.

Uproar escalated when officials confirmed a second probe into espionage, compounding a rift over allegations that the US National Security Agency had conducted mass surveillance and hacked Merkel’s mobile phone. Expulsion followed repeated demands by Germany for the US to co-operate in solving the cases.

German lawmakers were briefed by investigators in Berlin on two cases of suspected espionage, the first involving a 31-year-old employee of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, charged with passing classified documents. The second involved a suspect identified as a Defense Ministry employee.

Merkel, speaking in China on July 7, called the 31-year-old's arrest a “serious case” that, if true, violated “trusting co-operation” between allies.

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