German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that if reports that a German intelligence employee spied for the United States are proven true, it would be a “clear contradiction” of trust between the allies.
Speaking at a news conference in China, Merkel made her first public comments on the arrest last week of a 31-year-old man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services.
German prosecutors say the man is suspected of handing over 218 documents between 2012 and 2014. German media, without naming sources, have reported he was an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service who says he sold his services to the U.S.
“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,” Merkel said at a news conference in Beijing with the Chinese premier.
Germany has been stepping up pressure on the United States to clarify the situation.
A U.S. official said the matter did not come up during a phone call Thursday between President Barack Obama and Merkel. The phone call was scheduled beforehand to discuss other matters and Obama was not aware of the spying allegations at the time, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private call.
The White House said the U.S. will work with Germany to resolve its concerns.
The spying report threatens to strain German-U.S. relations again after earlier reports that the National Security Agency spied on Germans, including on Merkel’s cellphone.
The German newspaper Bild reported Monday that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere wants to include the U.S. among future German spy targets in response to the case.