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7 Dec, 2023 16:56

EU state expels US embassy staff – El Pais

The decision followed allegations the personnel bribed host country intel agents, the newspaper has said
EU state expels US embassy staff – El Pais

At least two employees at the US embassy in Madrid have been quietly expelled from Spain on suspicion of recruiting agents from the country’s National Intelligence Center (CNI) to obtain highly classified information, El Pais reported on Thursday, citing government sources.

According to the newspaper, two Spanish intelligence officers were arrested two months ago after an internal inspection revealed that they had gained access to classified information that was not required for their work and which they had no right to know.

The investigation found that at least one of them had been bribed by US agents. The incident has not been made public as a Spanish court has ordered the case kept secret.

US agents are believed to have begun recruiting the officers more than a year ago, El Espanol reported.

Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles summoned the US ambassador in Madrid, Julissa Reynoso, and asked for an explanation. The diplomat said she was unaware of what had happened, apologized and promised to cooperate with the investigation as much as possible, according to El Pais.

The Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs agreed on the discreet expulsion of at least two US staff involved in the recruitment and bribery of CNI agents, as Washington hastened to withdraw them, the article reported.

“The recruitment of secret agents of the host state to betray their own country is considered an openly hostile action,” the newspaper detailed, noting that the occasions when Spain refuses to share information of interest to Washington “are counted between one and none” and it is unclear why the US had to pay when they “get everything they ask for.”

This is not the first time the US has been suspected of spying on its allies. In 2013, an international scandal erupted after former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about Washington’s eavesdropping on former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Two years ago, Reuters reported that in addition to tapping Merkel’s phone, the US National Security Agency (NSA) had allegedly spied on senior officials in Sweden, Norway, France and Germany using Danish information cables.

 

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