German Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere has asked Washington for a quick and clear explanation for its apparent contact with a German man arrested last week on suspicion of being a double agent. “I expect everyone to cooperate promptly to clear up these allegations, with quick and clear comments from the United States as well,” de Maiziere told Bild.
The White House and State Department have so far declined to comment on the arrest of a 31-year-old employee of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency, who admits passing documents to a US contact, according to intelligence and political sources. The documents include information about a parliamentary committee looking into allegations by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that Washington carried out major surveillance in Germany, including monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.
De Maiziere, one of the cabinet ministers closest to Merkel, called it a “very serious case” that must be investigated fully to “gauge the scale of the alleged spying, and especially answer the question of who was involved.”
The US ambassador was called in on Friday to hear Berlin’s request for an explanation. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday that it was in Washington’s own interests to help with the “quickest possible clarification of the facts.”
President of Germany Joachim Gauck, a former Protestant pastor and rights campaigner in the old German Democratic Republic, told German TV that the NSA affair was “a vexing episode.” He added, “If it really is the case that a [US intelligence] service has been using an employee from our service in this way, we have to say ‘that’s enough.'”