German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called reports of clandestine U.S. intelligence operations in her government a "clear contradiction" of a "trusting cooperation" between the U.S. and Germany -- the latest sign of lasting damage from the revelations by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Standing beside Merkel at the news conference in Beijing was Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with whom she found common ground in her indignation of U.S. spying. Speaking of the charges of cyber-espionage launched by the Justice Department in May, Li said, "China and Germany ... are both victims of hacking attacks."
The newest word that an alleged double agent has been arrested for selling sensitive information to American agencies comes as the U.S.-German relationship was just beginning to heal.
The accused is a 31-year-old employee of Germany's foreign intelligence service who began selling secrets to the U.S. in 2012 and continued until his arrest last week. A total of 218 documents were handed over during this period, according to an AP report. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere responded to the arrest of the double agent by saying he wants to include the United States as a target of future spying operations.
The timing of the arrest -- as Merkel tours China on a trade mission -- allows for an odd alliance between China and Germany. While Merkel does not explicitly mention China's alleged economic espionage, she declared her critical opposition to the practice wherever it originates. At the same time, Merkel condemned the the past U.S. spying operations in her country and called for a quick account of what the latest arrest means for trans-Atlantic relations.