Sunday 23 October 2016

Germany Asks Foreign Missions to Disclose Names of Their Spies

K Mammen Mathew/Berlin

In an unprecedented move, Germany has asked all foreign embassies to disclose the names of their entire intelligence service agents operating in the country, according to a media report.

In a directive sent to the diplomatic missions last week, the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs has demanded them to submit a complete list of their intelligence service officials, including those posted at their consulates and cultural institutes as well as the agents working for their armed forces stationed in this country, the online edition of the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported.

The unusual move by the German government to demand such information even from its closest partners is in response to the recent disclosure of US espionage operations in the country, especially the unmasking of two officials of Germany's foreign intelligence service BND and the defence ministry as suspected American spies.

The German Federal Prosecutor's office had in mid-July opened an investigation against the two on suspicion of espionage activities for the US.

Shortly after the unmasking of the two officials, the German government expelled the head of US intelligence services stationed here.

The top CIA official's expulsion was also linked to the extensive espionage activities in the country by the National Security Agency (NSA) which were revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year.

The government's new initiative is an expression of its deep frustration about the lack of cooperation shown by the American side to investigate a series of allegations about US espionage operations in Germany and their refusal to reveal the names of US intelligence service personnel involved in the espionage operations, Spiegel Online said.

It is also aimed at establishing a "mutual understanding" with the foreign diplomatic missions on the activities of their intelligence services, the report said.

The government holds the view that all foreign diplomatic missions in Germany have officials of their national intelligence services among their diplomatic staff.

The largest groups of secret service agents are from Russia, China and the US. The US alone is estimated to have over 200 intelligence service agents in this country, Spiegel Online said.

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