TIME international relations

Merkel Says U.S. Spy Allegations Are Serious, If True

Angela Merkel, Li Keqiang
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Monday, July 7, 2014. Andy Wong—AP

Merkel said if the allegations are true, it would be a "clear contradiction" of trust between the allies

(BEIJING) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that if reports that a German intelligence employee spied for the United States are proven true, that would be a “clear contradiction” of trust between the allies.

The comments marked Merkel’s first public remarks on the arrest last week of a 31-year-old man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services.

German prosecutors say the man allegedly handed 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 reports are correct it would be a serious case,” Merkel said at a news conference in Beijing with the Chinese premier. “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.'”

Germany has been stepping up pressure on the United States to clarify the situation. Germany’s Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador Friday to help clarify the case.

The issue threatens to strain German-U.S. relations again after earlier reports that the National Security Agency spied on Germans, including on Merkel’s cellphone.

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