A member of parliament has called for the US ambassador to be recalled in connection with the release of WikiLeaks cables. The demand came a day after a member of the FDP was identified as the source of leaks to the US.
The FDP says no confidential information was leaked
A scandal involving the publication of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks and Germany's Free Democrats (FDP) has prompted an FDP politician to demand the recall of the US ambassador in Berlin, Phillip Murphy.
Hans-Michael Goldmann told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper that Murphy has "failed" in his handling of the affair and that "if this conduct were displayed by a German ambassador he would be recalled home."
Goldmann said Murphy had yet to apologize for the embarrassing comments made by US officials regarding high-ranking German politicians, which were brought to light by the WikiLeaks publication.
He also criticized statements by Murphy surrounding allegations of a German informant who leaked information to the US during coalition talks between the FDP and Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats last year.
The chief of staff for Vice Chancellor Guido Westerwelle - who is also the head of the Free Democrats (FDP), was exposed on Thursday as the source of leaks to the US that have embarrassed Washington and threatened to strain its relations with Berlin.
Helmut Metzner was relieved of his duties on Thursday.
Murphy has been in the post since last year
"The staff member of the FDP's federal headquarters, who has admitted his contacts with the US embassy in Berlin, has been relieved of his duties as chief of staff for the FDP chairman by mutual agreement," party spokesman Wulf Oehme said in a brief statement.
The diplomatic cables showed that an FDP insider had given regular updates to a US embassy contact from closed-door coalition talks between the FDP and Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) following last year's election.
Murphy described Metzner as a "fly on the wall, a young, up-and-coming party loyalist who was taking notes during the marathon talks."
'That's no mole'
Meanwhile, German Development Minister, Dirk Niebel, who is a leading member of the FDP, has rejected the notion that Metzner leaked any confidential information to the US during the October 2009 talks.
"That's no mole," Niebel told German public television on Friday morning, adding that the 41-year-old Metzner's "informant role" to the US embassy in Berlin was "completely normal political business."
"What he 'leaked' to the US, for instance, was that one of our party's intentions was to have all nuclear weapons stored by the US in Germany removed once and for all: This is not secret information. You could have also read it in our election platform," Niebel said.
Nevertheless, the FDP said on Thursday that Metzner would take on another role at the party, which has struggled in opinion polls in the country since achieving record results in last September's general election.
Recent polls suggest support of the FDP is below five percent - under the level required to enter parliament.
This compares with nearly 15 percent at the September 2009 elections, which helped Angela Merkel secure a second term as chancellor.
Author: Gabriel Borrud (Reuters, dpad)
Editor: Chuck Penfold