Germany took the dramatic step today of asking the top US intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country, following two reported cases of suspected American spying and the yearlong spat over eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. The move reflects growing impatience in Germany at what is perceived as US nonchalance about being caught spying on a close ally. "The representative of the US intelligence services at the United States embassy has been asked to leave Germany," a German spokesman said. "The government takes the matter very seriously." He added that Germany continues to seek "close and trusting" cooperation with its Western partners, "especially the United States."
Shortly before the decision was announced, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that Germany and the United States had "very different approaches" to the role of intelligence agencies. She stressed the need for greater trust between allies, a position she has repeatedly voiced since reports last year that the NSA eavesdropped on her cellphone. In separate cases over the past 10 days, one man has been arrested and an investigation against another has been launched. German media have reported that the men are suspected of passing secrets to the US. "If the situation remains what we know now, the information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. "However, the political damage is already disproportionate and serious." (Read more Germany stories.)