Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel said in a news conference in Beijing Monday that if allegations that a German man had been working as a double agent for the U.S. are true, "it would be a serious case."
According to intelligence sources, a 31-year-old employee of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency admitted to slipping classified documents to a U.S. contact. The White House and State Department have yet to comment on the matter, and Merkel stated that "if the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners."
Alleged information passed includes Germany's parliamentary committee investigation into data former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden dredged up suggesting that the U.S. National Security Agency initiated a major surveillance in Germany, including tapping Merkel's phone.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented, "We haven't finished clearing this up yet. But if suspicions are confirmed that American secret services were involved, it will become a political issue and we can't just get back to business as usual."
Merkel was in China to oversee signing of agreements involving Airbus Group NV's helicopter division selling 100 aircraft to Chinese companies, and warned the Chinese government about the growing threat of cyber attacks and industrial espionage.
"Germany is against that (industrial espionage) regardless of where it comes from," Merkel said, adding, "We have a duty as the state to protect our economy. We are for the protection of intellectual property."
Some espionage-related humor:
Pitching a movie about US spying on Germany. Working title 'There's Something about Merkel'
— Chris Magill (@cmagill) July 7, 2014
Dear @Angie_Merkel , my firm will ship you Gold 1-2 days, not 5-7 years, we also won't spy on you, and shall cheer for your "football" team
— red pill economist (@redpilleconomic) July 8, 2014
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden's lawyer in Germany, Wolfgang Kaleck, said he hoped the latest allegations might eventually help change Germany's stance on his client, noting that Europe had profited from his information but were not prepared to offer him asylum. Snowden remains stranded in Russia.
Image via Wikimedia Commons