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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Merkel speaks out on US spy claims

Angela Merkel has made her first public remarks on the arrest of a man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services (AP)
Angela Merkel has made her first public remarks on the arrest of a man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services (AP)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that if reports a German intelligence employee spied for the United States are proven true, it would be a "clear contradiction" of trust between the allies.

Speaking at a news conference in China, she made her first public comments on the arrest last week of a 31-year-old man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services.

German prosecutors say the man is suspected of handing over 218 documents between 2012 and 2014.

German media have reported he was an employee of Germany's foreign intelligence service who says he sold his services to the US.

"If the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners," Mrs Merkel said at a news conference in Beijing with the Chinese premier.

Germany has been stepping up pressure on the United States to clarify the situation. The issue threatens to strain German-US relations again after earlier reports that the National Security Agency spied on Germans, including on Mrs Merkel's cellphone.

The German newspaper Bild reported German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere wants to include the US among future German spy targets in response to the case.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said if the allegations of US involvement were true, the case could lead to unspecified changes in the two countries' "daily routine".

"Should the suspicions be confirmed that American intelligence agencies were involved, then that's also a political matter where one can't just go back to the daily routine," he said during a visit to Mongolia.

"We will work hard to answer the outstanding questions and then decide how to react," he said. "I hope that the US can contribute to resolving this matter as quickly as possible."

In Berlin, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in an interview with Der Spiegel that the United States would never sign a commitment with any other nation not to spy on them.

"The US will never sign a no-spy agreement (as demanded by Germany) with any other countries, not with you, not with Britain or Canada," Mrs Clinton said.

"But that doesn't mean that the two countries and their intelligence agencies shouldn't clarify what's appropriate and what isn't."

Press Association

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