With the expulsion of one of America’s top intelligence officials from Berlin, relations between the US and Germany are at their most tense in over ten years.
Two allegations of US espionage on German soil have come to light in the space of a week. Both concern German government employees suspected of handing information to Washington.
The US says the strength of ties with Germany is not in question.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters: “I would just reiterate that our relationship with Germany is extremely important,” she emphasised, “we have many areas we work together on. We have areas certainly where we may disagree, but the sign of a strong relationship is being able to work through those disagreements or challenges.”
The US President hinted at America’s surveillance policy in January.
“What I have put forward is a presidential directive that very clearly indicates what we will do and what we will not do when it comes to overseas surveillance,” Obama said at the time, referring to the news of mass international surveillance by the US, which included tapping the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Having remained silent until now, Merkel expressed very clear feelings on espionage.
“Common sense says spying on allies is a waste of energy,” she said. “We have so many problems and I think we should focus on the important things… I am convinced more confidence and trust can and does lead to better security.”
For months, questions about the activity of US intelligence in Germany have gone unanswered.
Adding to the intrigue are reports that the two spy suspects were passing information concerning the commission investigating the data-snooping to the CIA.