German government expels America's most-senior intelligence official in Berlin over espionage row

Angela Merkel has let it be known that she is 'not amused' by the continuing allegations of US spying in Germany

berlin

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government ordered the most-senior American intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country today, in a direct response to a deepening transatlantic espionage scandal in which two German state employees are suspected of having spied for the US.

The unprecedented move against a Nato ally was announced by Clemens Binninger, the chairman of the Berlin parliamentary committee overseeing the intelligence services, less than 24 hours after prosecutors revealed the existence of the second suspected US spy in Germany.

Der Spiegel magazine described the official request as an “earthquake” and said Germany usually reserved such draconian diplomatic measures “for pariah states like Iran or North Korea”. But it noted that asking to leave was not the same as an “expulsion”.

Mr Binninger told reporters Berlin “had asked the representative of the US intelligence services in Germany to leave the country”. He said the decision was a reaction to the “ongoing failure to help resolve the various allegations” that started last year with disclosures about widespread US espionage in Germany and culminated in two new spying cases over the past week. Ms Merkel let it be known that she was “not amused” by the continuing allegations of US spying in Germany.

The charges first emerged last October when the American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the US National Security Agency had bugged her mobile phone. Since then, German government officials have been exasperated by Washington’s failure to clarify the spying issue or provide any explanation.

There was no immediate response from the US embassy in Berlin to the expulsion order, which almost certainly concerns the CIA’s top representative or “chief of station” in Germany. Earlier, Ms Merkel’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, gave vent to his government’s frustration with the affair. A former Interior Minister responsible for the intelligence services, Mr Schäuble said that while Germany relied on US intelligence to fight terrorism, “it doesn’t mean that the Americans are allowed to recruit third-rate people here”. He said if the allegations against the US spy suspects proved true, “it is so stupid that one can only cry at the foolishness of it”. But Mr Schäuble dismissed claims that the information the two alleged spies had passed on to the US was significant. “If the situation remains what we know now, the information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable,” he said.

Wolfgang Schäuble said the information reaped by the suspected spies was ‘laughable’ Wolfgang Schäuble said the information reaped by the suspected spies was ‘laughable’ (Getty Images)
On Wednesday, Germany was rocked by fresh revelations that state prosecutors had searched the home and offices of an unnamed defence ministry staffer on suspicion of spying for the US – the second such case in a week.

The search followed the arrest of a German intelligence service employee who is alleged to have worked as a US double agent for more than two years. He is reported to have received €30,000 (£24,000) in cash in exchange for 218 secret German documents he downloaded on to computer memory sticks. He was said to have met his US spymasters at secret locations in Austria.

Der Spiegel described the second US suspect as a potentially “ideal informant” because, as a defence ministry employee, he had access to Berlin’s Nato strategy and secret plans for military co-operation with other countries.

He was said to have worked as a foreign country specialist in the ministry’s political department. Der Spiegel said he was an “ideal informant” for any intelligence service and would have had “extensive access to the ministry’s political planning” and documents containing the details of political negotiations with other countries. Prosecutors are still investigating the suspect and no arrest has been made.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits