CIA Director John Brennan has asked to brief key members of the
U.S. Congress on the matter, which threatens a new rupture between
Washington and a close European ally, one of the officials said.
It was unclear if and when Brennan's briefing to U.S. lawmakers
would take place. The CIA declined any comment on the matter.
The office of Germany's Federal Prosecutor, based in the western
city of Karlsruhe, late last week issued a statement saying that a
31-year old man had been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign
spy, and that investigations were continuing. The statement offered
no further details.
German politicians have said that the suspect, an employee of the
country's foreign intelligence service, admitted passing to an
American contact details concerning a German parliamentary
committee's investigation of alleged U.S. eavesdropping disclosed by
Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security
The U.S. officials who confirmed the CIA's role spoke on condition
of anonymity, and offered no further details.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest declined comment on the
"The relationship that the United States has with Germany is
incredibly important. This is a very close partnership that we have
on a range of security issues, including some intelligence issues,"
Earnest said. "All of those things are high priorities not just to
this administration, but to this country. So we're going to work
with the Germans to resolve this situation appropriately."
Snowden's revelations last year, which included evidence that the
NSA was targeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cell
phone, frosted U.S.-German relations. The White House agreed to stop
targeting Merkel, but rejected Berlin's pleas for a wider "no spy"
[to top of second column]
The latest case risks further straining ties.
"If the reports are correct it would be a serious case," Merkel told
a news conference in Beijing, standing next to Chinese Premier Li
German media reported that the suspected spy, who has not been
named, had first been detained on suspicion of contacting Russian
intelligence agents, but then admitted he had worked with the
Americans. The suspect worked for Germany's Federal Intelligence
Service, known by the German initials BND.
While historically close, U.S. intelligence ties to Germany became
strained over the last year in the wake of the Snowden revelations.
Snowden took refuge in Moscow last year after leaking tens of
thousands of highly classified U.S. intelligence documents to media
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland. Editing By Warren Strobel
and Andrew Hay)
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