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German police widen search in scandal over US spying

BERLIN — Police on Wednesday searched the Berlin-area office and apartment of a man suspected of being a spy, the federal prosecutor’s office said, deepening the espionage scandal that has damaged relations between the United States and Germany.

No one has been arrested yet and the investigation is continuing, the prosecutor’s office said in a terse statement.

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The statement did not specify that the suspect had been spying for the United States. But a joint investigative reporting unit of the German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and two public broadcasters cited informed sources as saying that the suspect worked in the “military field” and had spied for Washington.

Lieutenant Colonel Uwe Roth, a spokesman for the German Defense Ministry, confirmed that federal prosecutors were carrying out an investigation involving his ministry, but declined to give further details.

If a second German is found to have been spying for the Americans, it would deepen the trans-Atlantic quarrel that erupted over an employee of the German foreign intelligence service who is said to have been run by the CIA after volunteering information two years ago. That case, revealed last week, deepened the mistrust that has clouded relations between Washington and Berlin for more than a year after revelations of US intelligence activities in Germany, including eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, declined to comment on the continuing cases.

“The German government is in contact with the American side on many levels, the federal prosecutor and the investigators are continuing their work,” Seibert said.

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“If the accusations are proven true, then it is a very serious course of events which stands clearly in opposition to what the chancellor understands as trustworthy cooperation between services and from partners,” Seibert added.

John B. Emerson, the US ambassador who was summoned to the German Foreign Ministry on July 4 to discuss last week’s spy revelations, was again in the ministry on Wednesday and met Merkel’s foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, the US Embassy said. A spokesman said both meetings took place at the Americans’ request.

Thomas Miller, the embassy’s top public affairs officer, declined to detail what was discussed.

The newspaper Die Welt, which has well-placed sources in the German government, said the second suspect was a Bundeswehr soldier suspected of passing information to US military intelligence.

Norbert Röttgen, a senior member of Merkel’s conservative party and head of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he had told US officials about the political damage the scandal is causing in Germany.

“At some point, the ‘no comment’ will not be enough,” Röttgen said by phone from Washington, where he and other lawmakers have been meeting with US officials.

At the same time, he cautioned his German colleagues to understand Berlin and Washington have profoundly different views on the role of intelligence services, and not to let these differences permanently hurt otherwise strong ties.

“We should not let the intelligence service stupidities be the measure of our relations because German-American relations are essential,” he said.

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