Tags: Barack Obama | United States | Germany | CIA | expulsions

Obama Fails to Reach Out to Merkel Over CIA Expulsion

Image: Obama Fails to Reach Out to Merkel Over CIA Expulsion German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and US President Barack Obama.

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Friday, 11 Jul 2014 11:06 AM

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have not yet spoken about Germany's decision to expel the CIA's station chief over allegations the United States spied on its major European ally, a German government spokesman said Friday.

"There has been no phone call between the Chancellor and Washington, and none is planned," Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference. Reuters reported. 

On Thursday, Germany told the CIA station chief in Berlin to leave the country  in a display of anger from Merkel after officials unearthed two suspected U.S. spies.

The scandal has chilled relations with Washington to levels not seen since Merkel's predecessor opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. It follows allegations that Merkel herself, who grew up in Stasi-ridden East Germany, was among thousands of Germans whose mobile phones have been bugged by American agents.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a Thursday press briefing that there has been "range of discussions with Germany over the course of the last several months, and I expect those will continue," CNS reported. "But those will happen through diplomatic channels."

But she would not comment on whether the Obama administration is considering expelling a person from the German Embassy in response, as would be a customary diplomatic action, or on the alleged spying cases involving Germany.

Last week, an official at Germany's foreign intelligence agency was arrested after being accused of being a double agent for the United States. Another of the spying cases involves a defense ministry official.

Psaki on Thursday pointed several times to a review of intelligence-gathering procedures ordered by Obama after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's revelations about the agency's surveillance practices went public. She said factors taken into consideration include "keeping Americans safe, keeping allies in other countries safe, as well as taking steps to reform and revise some of our systems when needed."

Snowden's allegations include claims that the NSA had spied on Merkel's cellphone. While she called that a "breach of trust," Germany did not order expulsions until the recent spying allegations.

Meanwhile, top German leaders want answers. Seibert said the German government took its action following an ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors, and that its government "takes the matter very seriously."

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is demanding a response from the United States, reports the German newspaper Spiegel, saying that Washington must "once again develop a common understanding with us on how we want to work together in the future."

She told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper in Germany that Snowden's revelations shook the trust Germany had in the United States, and if Washington wants to restore relations, it will have to inform its intelligence services that it is not "politically acceptable" to spy just because it can, Spiegel reported.

In addition, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, speaking to a public broadcaster on Thursday, said that even though Germany has defended "itself from terrorist threat against Germany" with information gathered from intelligence agencies, the United States did not have "the right to recruit third-class people here."

He called the development "just so stupid, and so much stupidity makes you just want to cry," and added that Merkel is "not amused."

Reuters also contributed to this report.

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