Reports: Germany investigating possible second U.S. spying suspect


This photo, taken on Oct. 29, 2013, shows a view of the U.S. Embassy in front of Berlin’s Parliament building. (AFP/John MacDougall)

German officials on Wednesday raided Berlin-area properties in search of evidence of espionage, just days after an employee of the country’s foreign intelligence service was arrested in connection to another U.S. spying case, according to reports.

“We have investigations in two cases of suspected espionage, a very serious suspicion,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

Seibert didn’t provide additional details, and no arrests have been made yet, the Associated Press reported.

Siebert stressed the importance of Germany’s relationship with the United States, but added: “Still there is a profound difference of opinion between Germany and the U.S. when it comes to the question how security and the right to freedom can be brought into a balance.”

The White House, CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

According to the AP, Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper, reported that investigators were focusing on a man who worked for the country’s defense ministry; the newspaper Die Welt said the suspect was a soldier. Neither paper named its sources.

The general prosecutor confirmed the search in a statement and said authorities confiscated computers and data carriers. “We are taking this case very seriously,” Lt. Col. Uwe Roth, a spokesman for the German Defense Ministry, said.


The German Defense Ministry pictured through a fence Wednesday. (AP/Maurizio Gambarini)

The case marks the second apparent American espionage investigation in Berlin this month. Officials last week reportedly arrested a 31-year-old employee of BND — Germany’s intelligence agency — who now stands accused of selling information to the United States.

German prosecutors believe the man had turned over more than 200 documents during a two-year period, the AP reported.

“The German government is in contact with the American side on many levels, the federal prosecutor and the investigators are continuing their work,” Seibert said at Wednesday’s news conference. “We need to wait for them to complete their work before we can speak of possible consequences.”

After reports of the first espionage case surfaced last week, U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson was called to the German Foreign Ministry and “asked to help in the swift clarification,” according to a statement from the ministry. Emerson was at the ministry again on Wednesday. According to the New York Times, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy “declined to detail what was discussed.”

This summer’s investigations come about a year after allegations that the United States spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel by listening to her cellphone calls.

“The spying activities of the USA are becoming a heavy burden for German-American relations,” the chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Parliament, Thomas Oppermann, told Spiegel online. “It’s a degrading spectacle, if the American intelligence service are now caught spying on a weekly basis. I’d advise the Americans to clear the slate, disclose everything and cease the spying activities.”

This post has been updated. Last update: 2:56 p.m.

Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin and Greg Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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