By Justin Sink
The White House vowed Monday to work with German officials to resolve allegations that an intelligence officer worked as a double agent for the United States.
"We're going to work with the Germans to resolve this situation appropriately," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, adding that the relationship between the U.S. and Germany is "incredibly important."
The German intelligence worker was arrested last Wednesday after counterintelligence forces discovered an email in which he attempted to sell secret documents to Russia. After his arrest, German authorities said the man claimed he had sold intelligence documents to the United States for two years.
Earnest said he could not comment on the reports directly, citing both the "pending German law enforcement investigation" and the alleged involvement of an American intelligence agency. He said President Obama did not mention the incident in a phone call with Merkel on Thursday, and does not have plans to call the German leader.
Merkel on Monday during a press conference in Beijing warned the allegations could become "a very serious development.”
"I would see this as a clear contradiction to what I understand as trusting cooperation of intelligence services as well as of partners,” she said.
German officials have also called on the Obama administration to release a statement explaining its side of the issue.
Relations between Berlin and Washington have been strained since revelations that the U.S. had spied on Merkel's personal cellphone, along with other disclosures revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
At a joint press conference this spring at the White House, Merkel said it was too soon to return to "business as usual" after the revelations. She said at the time the countries "have a few difficulties yet to overcome," and expressed concern over the "proportionality" of U.S. surveillance.
At the time, Obama said the nations were "not perfectly aligned yet, but we share the same values, and we share the same concerns.”