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Police in Berlin have arrested two men suspected of spying for a Syrian intelligence agency. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has told the Syrian ambassador to Berlin that such activities were unacceptable.
The two men, a 47-year-old with dual German-Syrian citizenship and a 34-year-old from Lebanon, were arrested on suspicion of having monitored Syrian opposition figures living in Germany for years, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The arrests of two men identified only as Akram O., and Mahmoud El A., were the result of an "extensive" investigation by Germany's domestic intelligence service, prosecutors added.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle responded Tuesday by summoning the Syrian ambassador to Berlin. The foreign minister said he insisted that Germany would not tolerate such activities against "Syrian opposition figures." He declined to give any further comment on the ongoing case.
Investigations are also underway into the activities of six other people believed to have been involved in the covert operations. Detectives were hopeful that searches of the suspects' apartments would yield further information.
The arrests were likely to worsen already strained relations between Germany and Syria.
In December, Syrian opposition figure Ferhad Ahma was attacked in his apartment in central Berlin. He maintained the attack was an attempt on the part of the Syrian regime to intimidate him. The German Foreign Ministry summoned the Syrian ambassador over the matter.
It is unclear whether the arrests in Berlin were related to the attack on Ahma.
ccp, ncy/msh (dpa, DAPD, AFP)
Editor's note: Deutsche Welle is bound by German law and the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.