TIME Cuba

Cuban President Raúl Castro Honors Spies Jailed in U.S. as National Heroes

Raul Castro, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino,  Antonio Guerrero
Ramon Espinosa—AP Cuba's President Raul Castro and Gerardo Hernandez salute, as fellow agents Ramon Labanino, background, second from right, and Antonio Guerrero applaud during a medal ceremony, in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015

The awards come despite thawing relations between Washington and Havana

Cuban President Raúl Castro awarded medals to five men on Tuesday, calling them national heroes for their espionage work in the U.S.

“The Cuban Five,” as they were nicknamed, had attempted to infiltrate Cuban exile groups within the U.S. but were arrested and imprisoned in 1998, Reuters reports.

All were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but three were released from U.S. custody on Dec. 17 when President Barack Obama announced a shift in Washington’s relationship with Havana. (The remaining pair had already returned to their homeland.)

In exchange for the final three spies, the Cuban government released a Cuban prisoner convicted 20 years ago of spying on his home country for the U.S.

The prisoner exchange was one element of a dramatic recent shift in U.S.-Cuba relations. Both countries have announced that they will restore diplomatic relations after decades of hostility and sanctions.

The Cuban Five were presented to a group of Cuban government officials, military officers and dignitaries at the Cuban parliament. Castro led the ceremony, but his brother, former President Fidel Castro, was not seen. Fidel, 88, has not appeared publicly in over a year.

Gerardo Hernandez, 49, was the leader of the arrested spies. “The honor that we receive today also demands that we rise to the challenges facing the revolution,” he said.

[Reuters]

TIME espionage

U.S. Shadow Group ‘Has Embedded Spyware in Foreign Computer Networks’

Iran, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan are among the nations allegedly infected with the malicious "implants"

The U.S. has succeeded in embedding virtually untouchable “implants” that are capable of spying on and even damaging foreign computer networks, according to a new report from a Russian cybersecurity company.

Kaspersky Lab says the malicious spyware is the work of a shadow entity called the Equation Group, which has allegedly infiltrated networks in Iran, Russia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The report says India, China and Syria are some of the other nations with a “high infection rate.”

According to Kaspersky, the implants are different from other cyberattacks in that they directly infect a computer’s firmware — the software that links directly to the hard drive.

This means that it is beyond the reach of most antivirus and security products, and is immune to efforts to wipe clean or even replace hard drives since it can be recalled at will. It also has the ability to unravel a system’s encryption and permanently store data in a hidden area, says Kaspersky.

“It means that we are practically blind and cannot detect hard drives that have been infected by this malware,” said Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team.

“Your computer won’t boot up and you can’t use it,” Andrew Regenscheid of the National Institute of Standards and Technology told the New York Times in an interview, explaining the effect of a firmware infection. “You have to replace the computer to recover from that attack.”

TIME National Security

Feds Accuse Three of Being Russian Spies in New York City

The suspects allegedly discussed methods to recruit local New Yorkers by falsely promising rewards in exchange for private documents

Attorney General Eric Holder charged three Russian citizens with conducting economic espionage in New York City on Wednesday, according to a complaint that details secret meetings, coded dispatches and attempts to recruit local citizens into the spy ring.

The complaint alleges that three Russian operatives met on at least 48 occasions in clandestine locations in Manhattan and the Bronx from March 2012 to September 2014. The suspects allegedly discussed methods to recruit local New Yorkers by falsely promising rewards in exchange for private documents.

Evgeny Buryakov, 39, stands accused of gathering field intelligence on topics ranging from U.S. sanctions against Russia to developments in the alternative energy sector. He allegedly gathered the information while posing as a private employee of a Russian bank.

Igor Sporyshev, 40, a trade representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, is accused of relaying covert assignments from Moscow, while partnering with Victor Podobnyy, 27, a diplomatic attache, to analyze the “the fruits of Buryakov’s intelligence-gathering efforts,” according to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice.

Potential recruits included several employees of major companies and young women associated with a major university. “The attempt by foreign nations to illegally gather economic and other intelligence information in the United States through covert agents is a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin in a public statement.

An investigation was opened against the three suspects shortly after a 2010 bust of a 10-person Russian spy ring. Buryakov was arrested on Monday in New York, and was due to appear in federal court in Manhattan later the same day. Sporyshev and Podobnyy no longer reside in the United States and have not been arrested. Both were protected by diplomatic immunity while they held their diplomatic positions in the U.S.

TIME Hizballah

Hizballah’s Failures Go Well Beyond an Alleged Israeli Mole

Hezbollah fighters hold their party flags as they attend a rally to commemorate slain top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh and two other leaders, Abbas Musawi and Ragheb Harb, in the Shiite suburb of Beirut, Feb. 22, 2008.
Hussein Malla—AP Hezbollah fighters hold their party flags as they attend a rally to commemorate slain top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh and two other leaders, Abbas Musawi and Ragheb Harb, in the Shiite suburb of Beirut, Feb. 22, 2008.

The so-called "A-Team" of terror has had a run of failures since the 2008 assassination of its mastermind. And Iran hasn't done any better.

In the last months of 2011 and first half of 2012, Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hizballah, put on perhaps the greatest show of rolling ineptitude in the history of modern covert warfare. Hopscotching the globe, their operatives tried and failed to strike Israeli or American targets perhaps two dozen times—in Azerbaijan, in Georgia, in Kenya, in Nigeria, in South Africa, in Turkey, in Greece, in Cyprus and, most spectacularly, in Thailand, where after blowing up an apartment while trying to make a bomb, an Iranian agent scrambled into the street and blew off his own legs.

What could account for such a formidable string of failures? According to Hizballah itself: an Israeli mole inside the militant group. A senior official with the Shiite militia this week acknowledged “some major infiltrations” in its ranks. Speaking to a Hizballah radio station on Sunday, Naim Qassem offered oblique but rare on-the-record confirmation of earlier reports that one of its most trusted operatives was on trial for treason, along with four others reported to be compromised by Israel’s Mossad.

“It appears to be the real deal,” says Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury official and author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. “And they clearly are freaking out about it.”

The alleged culprit, identified as Mohammad Shawraba by the Lebanese English-language Daily Star, was in a position to know. The newspaper and other reports say he headed the “external operations” unit of Hizballah, the very group responsible for carrying out the bombings, assassinations and other terror strikes that the Shi’ite militia has long been known for conducting—and almost always without leaving behind evidence that it was responsible. Hizballah may not have quite invented terror strikes as a tool of modern warfare. (The first car bomb, actually a horse-drawn carriage, was exploded on Wall Street in 1920.) But by 2002, when the West felt wobbly from the attacks of 911, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage was calling them “The A-Team” of terror.

And yet, since the man hailed as Hizballah’s terror mastermind, Imad Mughniyah, was killed by a booby-trapped car headrest in 2008, his successors have been unable to deliver the revenge they repeatedly promised. Mughniyah’s assassination was, of course, laid at the feet of Mossad, as almost everything that happens in the Middle East is. The Israeli spy agency glories in its reputation for bloodless omniscience (Google the list of animals that neighboring Mideast states have named as Israeli spies), a notoriety that acts as a force multiplier. But as TIME and others have reported, Mossad has also a long run of real marquee missions, including the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists on the streets of Tehran in 2010 and 2011. Those attacks in turn ignited a response from Iran’s own elite covert operators, the section of the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force known as Unit 400. Though, like Hizballah’s external operators, Unit 400 soon proved less formidable than its reputation.

The full extent of the collapse became evident on February 13, 2012. Hizballah and the Qods Force were brought together by the anniversary of Muniyah’s death, four years and one day earlier, and the latest scientist assassination in Tehran, just a month previous. In what was intended as a one-two punch at “hard” Israeli targets, operatives tried to detonate bombs attached to Israeli diplomats’ cars in Tbilisi, Georgia, and New Delhi, India. The Tbilisi bomb was discovered. In Delhi, a man on a motorcycle managed to attach a “magnet bomb” to the side of a car carrying the wife of an Israeli diplomat.

It’s the method of assassination that Israeli operatives had repeatedly used on the streets of Tehran, targeting Iranian nuclear scientists on their way to work. But there was a hitch. “I was in New Delhi when it happened,” says Ely Karmon, a senior scholar at International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. “They put the bomb on the right side of the car, because it had to explode on the fuel tank. But in India they ride on the left side, and the tank is on the left side.” The mistake gave the chauffeur time to eject his passenger, a diplomat’s wife, who survived.

Shawraba, the alleged Israeli mole, would have been involved in both attacks, as well as the July 2012 bombing that killed a handful of Israeli tourists on an airport bus in Bulgaria, where Hizballah resorted to a soft target. Evidence of his presumed loyalty was offered in reports that he had earlier served as a bodyguard to Hizballah’s charismatic leader, Hassan Nasrallah, long assumed to be No. 1 on Israel’s hit list. The newspaper reports said he had betrayed five secret operations, and implied that his removal, along with four men working in his unit, had freed Hizballah from the shadow of suspicion.

“The idea is that they’ve stopped the sole source that was responsible for everything,” says Levitt, now a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he produced a 2013 report on the “Iran’s Shadow War with the West” that detailed operational incompetence in the string of failures under the heading, “Amateur Hour.” In an interview Monday, he noted that intercepted communications played a significant role in thwarting “many of these operations.”

“The Israelis are pretty good at what they do,” Levitt continues. “We’re pretty good at what we do. Nobody has one source for everything.”

Indeed, Israel has recruited Hizballah officials in the past, and likely has sources in the Iranian establishment as well, says Karmon. The Israeli army occupied southern Lebanon for 18 years, with its security services developing human assets that sometimes emerge only after decades, if ever. In 1973, the surprise Egyptian attacks on Israeli positions that became the cataclysmic Yom Kippur War was in advance tipped by the son-in-law of Egypt’s president. (His warnings were ignored, proving that Mossad isn’t omniscient after all.) What makes an insider turn? “Clearly money is very important,” says Karmon. “Also safe haven, in case of need. But sometimes it can be an issue of revenge, infighting in an organization, some personal dispute with one of the leaders.”

On the Iranian side, things have quieted down. Israel has greatly reduced its tempo of detectable attacks, and the Quds Force has eased off as well, likely in order to allow nuclear negotiations to go forward, Levitt says. But from Hizballah, the hits keep coming. Last April, another planned attack on Israelis was thwarted in Bangkok. And at the end of October, Peruvian authorities arrested a Lebanese man who admitted to working for Hizballah, and taking photos of apparent targets. Traces of nitroglycerin reportedly were found in his Lima apartment. The A-Team evidently remains on hiatus.

TIME Iran

A Former U.S. Marine Imprisoned in Iran Has Gone on Hunger Strike

Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati, who has been sentenced to death by Iran's Revolutionary Court on the charge of spying for the CIA,  stands with Iraqi soldiers in this undated still image taken from video in an undisclosed location
Reuters TV/Reuters—Reuters Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, who has been sentenced to death by Iran's Revolutionary Court on charges of spying for the CIA, stands with Iraqi soldiers in this undated still image taken from video in an undisclosed location made available on Jan. 9, 2012

Dual U.S.-Iranian citizen Amir Hekmati was sentenced to 10 years for espionage

As the U.S. and Iran engage in dialogue over Tehran’s nuclear program, a former U.S. Marine who fears that he may be forgotten amid the diplomacy has gone on hunger strike to draw renewed attention to his plight.

Amir Hekmati, who has been imprisoned near the Iranian capital since 2011, announced the hunger strike to his family in a phone call Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Hekmati holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, and was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison on suspicion of espionage. The U.S. government has repeatedly denied that he is a spy, as has his family in Flint, Mich., who says he went to Iran to visit his grandmother.

“I ask that you not forget me, Mr. President,” Hekmati said in a letter dictated to his family and addressed to Barack Obama. “I ask that you make it clear that my case … should be resolved independent of your talks.”

[AP]

TIME espionage

Edward Snowden, Lupe Fiasco and More Wish Chelsea Manning a Happy Birthday

Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning
U.S. Army/AP This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Chelsea Manning wearing a wig and lipstick.

Michael Stipe called her a "patriot"

Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army soldier who turned over hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks and serving a 35-year prison sentence, turns 27 on Wednesday. To celebrate, a diverse assortment of admirers, from Edward Snowden to rapper Lupe Fiasco, have sent her best wishes that have been published by the Guardian.

“I thank you now and forever for your extraordinary act of service and I am sorry that it has come with such an unbelievable personal cost,” Snowden wrote. “You have inspired an angry public to demand a government that is accountable for its perpetration of torture and other war crimes, for the true costs of its wars, and for conspiring in corruption around the world.”

Michael Stipe, the former frontman for the band R.E.M., sent her a card with a rose on it and a handwritten note inside and called her a “patriot.” Fiasco celebrated with an homage to the cover of Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, using Manning’s face in the center of the cover art instead of West’s. “She encapsulates the antiheroes in society – sitting up in the heights of mythology, simultaneously demonised and forgiven,” Fiasco wrote.

The letters and cards were sent to Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas, where Manning is currently being held. Her first chance for parole comes in 2021.

[The Guardian]

TIME U.S.-Germany spy scandal

Germany May Counter U.S. Spying With Typewriters

The use of typewriters instead of e-mail was adopted by Russia last year following similar claims of U.S espionage

A leading German politician has suggested that typewriters will be used to write confidential documents, in the wake of the U.S. spying scandal.

Patrick Sensburg, head of the German parliament’s enquiry into NSA activity, said that email may soon become redundant, in an interview with the Morgenmagazin TV show Monday night.

Faced with the incredulity of the interviewer, Sensburg insisted that his announcement wasn’t a joke. He added that should German politicians adopt typewriters, they’ll be using manual, not electronic, models.

Sensburg said that ongoing U.S. monitoring of Germany necessitated the change in operation.

Berlin isn’t the first country to consider reverting to old-school technology. Germany follows in the footsteps of Russia, which reportedly took similar measures after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the Kremlin had been a target of NSA spying.

The Kremlin’s security agency spent 486,540 rubles, or around $14,162, on typewriters equipped with a unique typing pattern that allowed each document to be linked to a particular machine.

The scandal surrounding U.S. surveillance of Germany escalated last week after the top U.S. Intelligence official at the American Embassy in Berlin was ordered to leave Germany.

The CIA station chief’s exodus clipped on the heels of news reports earlier this month that a German intelligence official arrested on suspicion of spying had been working as a double agent for the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Germany Sunday to play down tensions, calling the two nations “great friends.”

TIME Germany

U.S. and Germany Make Nice Amid Espionage Claims

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a press conference, after talks between the foreign ministers of the six powers negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear program, in Vienna, Austria on July 13, 2014.
Jim Bourg—AP U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a press conference, after talks between the foreign ministers of the six powers negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear program, in Vienna, Austria on July 13, 2014.

"We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends," says Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the U.S. and Germany “great friends” on Sunday, playing down the tensions surrounding recent allegations that the U.S. has been spying on Berlin.

Kerry and German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met in Vienna to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, but used the occasion to reiterate their commitment to the U.S-German alliance as the espionage scandal that has battered the relationship between the two countries in recent weeks continues to reverberate.

Germany ordered the CIA’s station chief in Berlin to leave the country last week, after the arrest of a German man earlier in July on suspicion of spying on behalf of the U.S. government.

Although Kerry did not explicitly address the espionage claims, he stressed the importance of the U.S.-German partnership after noting that he and Steinmeier discussed ongoing conflicts in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

“Let me emphasize the relationship between the United States and Germany is a strategic one,” Kerry said in a statement alongside Steinmeier. “We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends. And we will continue to work together in the kind of spirit that we exhibited today in a very thorough discussion.”

Steinmeier said the two countries “want to work on reviving this relationship, on a foundation of trust and mutual respect,” Reuters reports. He mentioned that the effort applies to “all the difficulties that have arisen in our bilateral relations in recent weeks,” adding that the U.S.-German alliance will strengthen attempts to resolve issues in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran.

Both Steinmeier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have highlighted the necessity of continuing Germany’s partnership with the U.S. despite recent setbacks, but Merkel said in a Saturday interview with public German broadcaster ZDF that the two countries have completely different notions of the role of intelligence.

The Chancellor expressed hope that the reaction in Germany would persuade the U.S. not to spy on its allies. “We want this cooperation based on partnership,” she said in the interview. “But we have different ideas, and part of this is that we don’t spy on each other.”

TIME espionage

U.S. Spy Scandal in Germany Is Music to Putin’s Ears

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow
Pool/Reuters Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, July 8, 2014.

The rift in relations between Western allies could not have come at a better time for the Russian President

The American habit of spying on its European allies turned out to be one of the more memorable topics to come up in April when Vladimir Putin held his annual call-in show on Russian television. Toward the end of the four-hour marathon of questions for the Russian President, Putin was asked about the tone of his conversations with European leaders. He gave a wry response. “It’s hard to talk to people who speak in whispers to each other even when they’re at home, because they’re scared the Americans are eavesdropping,” Putin said, causing a wave of laughter spread across the studio audience. “Listen, I’m being serious,” he deadpanned. “I’m not kidding.”

But it must have been hard for him not to smile at the latest U.S. spying scandal this week. Germany on Thursday asked the resident spy chief at the American embassy in Berlin to leave the country after German authorities uncovered two spies in the course of a week, both of them allegedly selling secrets to the U.S. from inside the German intelligence service.

The depth of the outrage left no one laughing in the German capital, though there was no doubt something comical in the whole affair. As Thomas de Maiziere, the German Minister of Interior, put it in a statement on Thursday: “The information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable.” He did not say exactly what the information was, but German media have reported that it pertained to a parliamentary investigation into past allegations of American spying in Berlin.

“That’s so stupid that one can only cry at the foolishness of it,” the influential German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, adding in televised comments that Chancellor Angela Merkel is “not amused” by the latest scandal.

Neither is the diplomatic corps in Washington. With the West locked in its worst dispute with Russia since the Cold War, the U.S. and Europe need to form a united front against the Kremlin more now than at any point in a generation. That much was clear on Wednesday when Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, went before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the standoff with Russia.

The Senators demanded to know why the U.S. had not moved ahead with another round of sanctions to punish Russia for its military incursions in Ukraine, instead only making what Bob Corker, the committee’s ranking Republican, called “hollow threats.” Looking down at Nuland from his desk, Corker added, “It has to be very frustrating to continue to wake up in the mornings and look in the mirror and practice talking tough, but know that nothing’s going to happen.” The diplomat replied that the White House did not want to move against Russia alone and was waiting for the Europeans to come on board. “As the President has said, these sanctions will be more effective, they will be stronger, if the U.S. and Europe work together,” Nuland said.

But the following day, it became much harder for that cooperation to move ahead when Germany asked the top U.S. intelligence official in Berlin to get out. Making the case for another round of Western sanctions against Russia requires a great deal of intelligence sharing between the U.S. and its European allies. Their spy agencies need to provide each other with evidence of Russian meddling in eastern Ukraine, evidence that is often obtained through espionage. So however laughable the substance of U.S. spying in Germany may have seemed to officials in Berlin, their response has severed a key channel for exactly that kind of confidential communication with Washington.

For Russia, that is fantastic news. The state-run media in Moscow splashed the latest blow to U.S.-German ties across their headlines on Thursday evening, and as Putin has long made clear, he would love for the Europeans to reconsider their transatlantic alliances. “The modern world, and especially the Western world, is very monopolized,” Putin said during his call-in show in April. “Many Western countries, however unpleasant this may be for them to hear, they have willingly given up a significant part of their sovereignty. In part this is the result of the policy of forming blocs.”

The blocs Putin was referring to were the European Union and NATO, the military alliance that Russia sees as a strategic threat to its security. Over the years Putin has made no secret of his desire to see NATO downsized if not dismantled, and amid his recent standoff with the West over Ukraine, he has made a point to sew discord within that bloc of Western nations, most recently and publicly during his call-in show this spring. Just after his joke about European leaders whispering in their kitchens, the hosts of the tightly choreographed program took a call from Berlin, where a Hungarian political commentator named Gabor Stier asked Putin a somewhat leading question: “Aren’t you afraid that the U.S. will spoil Russia’s relations with Europe for a long time to come?”

Putin’s response was winding, but it ended with an anecdote meant to embarrass the current Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Years ago, when Rasmussen was still serving as the Prime Minister of Denmark, he asked for a private meeting with Putin, who said he was glad to oblige. “It turns out he took a tape recorder with him, secretly recorded our conversation and then published it in the press,” Putin claimed. “What kind of trust could there be after such incidents?”

NATO dismissed the allegations as “complete nonsense” and claimed Putin was simply trying to “divert attention” away from Russia’s meddling in Ukraine. But that probably wasn’t the aim of the anecdote. Putin’s more likely goal was to make the members of the NATO alliance suspect each other of spying and, ultimately, to erode the trust on which that alliance is based. Already the fallout from Germany’s latest spy scandal with the U.S. seems to have achieved something close to that very outcome, and if it leads to a rupture in their relationship, Putin will surely be able to allow himself a mischievous smile.

TIME espionage

Germany Asks U.S. Intelligence Official to Leave Amid Spying Concerns

German Federal Chancellor Merkel receives the Prime Minister of Moldova, Leanca, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on July 10, 2014.
Adam Roe—Scholz Press/Corbis German Federal Chancellor Merkel receives the Prime Minister of Moldova, Leanca, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on July 10, 2014.

With tensions between the two allies already high

Germany told the top U.S. intelligence official at the American embassy in Berlin to leave the country, the German government said Thursday.

Steffen Siebert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the American official has been asked to leave as a result of ongoing investigations into alleged U.S. spying in Germany.

“We have seen these reports and have no comment on a purported intelligence matter,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council. “However, our security and intelligence relationship with Germany is a very important one and it keeps Germans and Americans safe. It is essential that cooperation continue in all areas and we will continue to be in touch with the German government in appropriate channels.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that “any sort of comment on any reported intelligence acts would put at risk U.S. assets, U.S. personnel and the United States’ national security.”

“We do continue to be in touch with the Germans at a variety of levels, including through law enforcement, diplomatic and even intelligence channels,” Earnest added. “The strength of our national security relationship with Germany is important to American national security; it’s also important to the national security of the Germans.”

Earnest said he knew of no contacts between POTUS and Angela Merkel, other than last week’s conversation that preceded the announcement by German law enforcement officials about the alleged espionage.

The move comes amid growing tension between Germany and the U.S. over revelations of spying. Reports surfaced last year that intelligence officials tapped Merkel’s personal cell phone. And German media reported earlier this month that a foreigner arrested on suspicion of spying had been acting on behalf of the U.S.

“If this is true … I would see this as a clear contradiction to what I understand as trusting cooperation of intelligence services as well as of partners,” Merkel said when asked about the arrest Monday.

-Additional reporting by Zeke J Miller

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