BERLIN — Germany took the dramatic step Thursday of asking the top U.S. intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country, after two suspected cases of American spying and the year-long spat over eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.
The move reflects growing impatience in Germany at what is perceived as U.S. nonchalance about being caught spying on a close ally.
"The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the United States embassy has been asked to leave Germany," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
"The request occurred against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the questions that were posed months ago about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany," he added. "The government takes the matter very seriously."
Seibert said Germany continues to seek "close and trusting" cooperation with its Western partners, "especially the United States."
The U.S. government declined to comment directly on the decision. But White House spokesman Caitlin Hayden said the security and intelligence relationship with Germany was very important to the United States.