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Germany arrests suspected double agent spying for U.S.

| Friday, July 4, 2014, 11:52 p.m.

Germany summoned the American ambassador in Berlin on Friday as allegations of American spying erupted anew, threatening to further damage the countries' alliance.

The German federal prosecutor announced that a 31-year-old German had been arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of working for foreign intelligence agencies.

U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson was called in connection with the prosecutor's investigation, the German Foreign Ministry explained in a statement.

The U.S. envoy “was asked to help in the swift clarification” of the case, it said.

Reports by Der Spiegel magazine and the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung indicated that the man worked for Germany's foreign intelligence service, known by its German acronym BND.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the newspapers' reports.

Seibert said Chancellor Angela Merkel had been informed of the arrest.

The newspapers, which did not identify their sources, said the man is suspected of passing information about a German parliamentary committee that is investigating the activities of U.S. and other intelligence agencies in Germany. He claimed to have worked with American intelligence agencies since 2012, they reported.

Seibert said members of the parliamentary panel have been informed of the arrest.

Reports that the National Security Agency spied on German citizens, including on Merkel's cellphone, have caused friction between Berlin and Washington since they were published last year, based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Martina Renner, a member of the opposition Left Party on the parliamentary panel, said the case indicated that anyone who examined Snowden's revelations in detail was subject to scrutiny by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Her panel heard testimony on Thursday from two former NSA employees, Thomas Drake and William Binney.

“If the media reports (about the case) are confirmed, then there can't just be a legal response; there also has to be a political response,” she said.

In his testimony, Drake claimed that cooperation between the NSA and Germany's BND greatly increased after the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States. He described the German spy agency as an “appendage” of the NSA.

Seibert said Merkel discussed “foreign policy matters” in a telephone conversation with President Obama late Thursday. He said the conversation focused on Ukraine, but he would not say whether the arrest was discussed.

The U.S. National Security Council declined to comment, and BND did not return a call seeking comment.

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