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A German intelligence agent has been arrested on suspicion of secretly reporting back to U.S. spies about the activities of politicians who are investigating U.S. espionage in Germany, according to Friday reports by Süddeutsche Zeitung and the broadcasters NDR and WDR, and Der Spiegel.
The targets, apparently, were members of a Bundestag (German parliament) committee that is examining the implications of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, taking testimony from the likes of NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Thomas Drake.
The individual arrested on the orders of the attorney general worked for the BND signals intelligence agency, Germany’s equivalent to the NSA, government sources told the news outlets. The 31-year-old was originally arrested on suspicion of having contact with Russian intelligence, but then apparently confessed to having reported back at least once to the Americans on the Bundestag committee’s activities. He reportedly did this for money.
The reports raise the possibility that he may be lying, but also note that the committee has long suspected it was being spied on. If this is all true, it may turn out to be an even bigger diplomatic scandal than the NSA’s bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, a formal probe into which was announced a month ago.
This story was updated at 5am PT to remove the assertion (first made then retracted by Der Spiegel) that the arrested individual worked in the BND mailroom. He apparently worked in another department.