Germany asks top US intelligence official to leave country over spy row (Source theguardian.com)
Diplomatic relations between Germany and the US plunged to a new low after Angela Merkel’s government asked the top representative of America’s secret services in Germany to leave the country. While not formally amounting to a full expulsion, the move nonetheless sends a dramatic signal: after a year-long dispute triggered by the revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Merkel seems to have finally run out of patience with Washington’s failure to explain itself. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the US embassy staffer who has been asked to leave is a CIA “chief of station” who coordinates secret service activity in Germany, and who emerged as the key contact for two German officials recently arrested for allegedly spying for the US.
According to German media reports, such drastic action had previously only been thinkable when dealing with “pariah states like North Korea or Iran”. Clemens Binninger, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who chairs the committee that oversees the intelligence services, said at a press conference in Berlin that the action came in response to America’s “failure to cooperate on resolving various allegations, starting with theNSA and up to the latest incidents”. It follows two reported cases of suspected US espionage in Germany and the year-long spat over reported NSA spying in the country, includingclaims that Merkel’s phone was tapped.