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Germany

Double agent did not spy on German NSA inquiry, says panel chairman

An alleged double agent did not spy on Germany's parliamentary NSA inquiry, according to the panel's chairman. The suspect is accused of selling sensitive documents to a US intelligence agency.

The 31-year-old German suspect did not sell any of the NSA inquiry's sensitive internal documents to US intelligence agencies, according to inquiry chief Patrick Sensburg (pictured).

"At this time, I can say that I don't have any information that the NSA committee's own documents were spied on," Sensburg told German public radio on Saturday.

"I would be very careful about making hasty conclusions about whether the Americans were spying here or whether perhaps other states were spying," said Sensburg, who's a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

On Wednesday, German authorities arrested an employee of the country's foreign intelligence agency, known by its German acronym BND. The employee was detained on suspicion of espionage. BND officials said that the suspect worked was an aide in the division "Foreign Deployment Areas" and wasn't an actual agent.

The suspect allegedly sold 218 documents to an unnamed US intelligence agency for 25,000 euros ($33,000), according to the German news agency DPA, which cited unnamed BND officials. According to the BND, the documents did not contain particularly sensitive information.

The German daily tabloid newpaper Bild reported on Friday that three of the 218 documents were related to Germany's parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance operations. The suspect allegedly received orders directly from the US embassy, according to Bild.

'Huge breach of trust'

Public broadcasters WDR and NDR in cooperation with the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung originally broke the story. They reported that the suspect was originally detained on suspicion of trying to sell information to the Russians. During questioning, the suspect then supposedly admitted working for the US.

German parliamentarians across the political spectrum, including Merkel's traditionally pro-American CDU, have expressed outrage over the allegations.

"If it turns out to be true that a BND employee worked for the US embassy for years, it would be a huge breach of trust in the transatlantic relationship," Stephan Mayer, the internal affairs spokesman for Merkel's conservative parliamentary grouping, told Bild.

Meanwhile, members of the Green Party blamed Chancellor Merkel for the alleged security breach.

"The responsibility for the acitivities of the BND lie with the federal chancellery," Volker Beck, the Greens' internal affairs policy expert, told Handelsblatt Online. "We expect that the highest levels will order a clarfication of the incident without reservation."

slk/ipj (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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