US open to discussion about German accused of being a double agent

A German intelligence employee is accused of passing information to a US contact

U.S. officials are open to a discussion with their German counterparts after an employee with Germany's intelligence agency was arrested for allegedly acting as a double agent for the U.S.

U.S. officials are "happy" to have a discussion with representatives of the German government on the issue of spying, if the Germans request that, U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a press briefing Monday.

Psaki avoided questions about the impact of the allegations on U.S. and German relations, coming just months after German authorities accused U.S. intelligence agencies of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

"We have a strong friendship and partnership with Germany," Psaki said. "We've had decades of a partnership."

The 31-year-old employee of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) was arrested last Wednesday, according to news reports. While the employee was arrested under suspicion of passing on information to Russian intelligence services, the suspect allegedly received money to pass information to a U.S. contact, according to news reports.

Some German media outlets have suggested the suspect has spied on activities of a committee investigation into the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance activities in Germany.

Merkel said the case raises "serious" concerns about cooperation between U.S. and German authorities, according to news reports. In October, amid revelations of large-scale NSA surveillance programs worldwide, the German government said U.S. intelligence agencies may have spied on Merkel's mobile phone.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Tags Jen PsakiBundesnachrichtendienstAngela MerkelsecurityU.S. National Security AgencyU.S. Department of Stategovernment

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