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Germany

Federal Prosecutor's Office in Germany investigating possible second spy working for US

A second person is suspected of spying on Germany for the US, according to German media reports. Authorities view the case, which involves the German Defense Ministry, as "more serious" than last week's arrest.

Allegations of a second espionage case in Germany emerged on Wednesday. According to German media reports, Germany's Federal Prosecutor's Office was investigating an employee of the defense ministry on the "initial suspicion of secret intelligence activity."

The revelations follow less than a week after the Federal Prosecutor's Office arrested an employee of Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND) who admitted to passing over 200 documents to the CIA – the United State's foreign intelligence agency - for 25,000 euros ($34,000). The double agent worked for the BND for two years.

Although no arrest warrant has yet been issued for the second suspect, German public media cited sources close to the case as saying that authorities were viewing this case "more seriously" than last week's. The suspect was also believed to have ties to US foreign intelligence, but had no apparent links to the first suspect currently in police custody, according to the same reports.

Investigators conducted a search of the suspect's Berlin apartment and office early Wednesday, confiscating several computers and numerous data storage devices.

The man, reportedly a civilian, worked as a security policy consultant at the German Defense Ministry. German public broadcaster WDR reported that the Defense Ministry had confirmed his division was under investigation.

Berlin mulling strong action

While the details of Wednesday's investigation remained unclear, strong reactions emanated from Berlin over the possibility of US spying on German interests.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters on Wednesday that there was a "profound difference of opinion" between Washington and Berlin regarding security and freedom.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen also responded to Wednesday's allegations by urging better cooperation with the US.

"The US must [work with us] to create a common view of how we want to shape our cooperative efforts in the future," von der Leyen told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

But the sharpest words came from Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, who accused the US of "stupidity" and fueling mistrust between the two partners.

Even though the US had helped Germany hinder terrorist threats, American attempts to recruit German spies were "completely stupid," he said.

Damage control?

While Washington has remained largely silent on the allegations, US officials have been working to limit the damage. The US ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, has visited the chancellery twice since last Friday, and CIA Director John Brennan has spoken to German secret services coordinator Klaus-Dieter Fritsche. However, details of the conversations have not been released.

According to the New York Times, US President Barack Obama was unaware of the CIA mole when he spoke to Chancellor Merkel last Thursday, the day before the suspect's arrest. She, in contrast, had already been briefed on the case, but reportedly did not address it during the phone conversation.

German-US diplomatic relations have been strained since last year, when Berlin learned the NSA had tapped Merkel's cell phone. This week's allegations of US espionage have prompted the government to consider stronger action, including declaring US foreign intelligence agents in Germany "persona non grata."

A parliamentary committee was scheduled to hold a closed door meeting regarding the espionage cases on Thursday.

kms/jm (AFP, dpa)

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