German gov't press office employee probed over Egypt spying

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities are investigating suspicions that an employee of the government's press office worked for years for an Egyptian intelligence service, according to Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

The BfV agency said in its annual report, released Thursday, that “executive measures” were conducted against the man in December on the orders of federal prosecutors. It didn't give further details, and said that the investigation is ongoing.

Deputy government spokeswoman Martina Fietz declined to give details on Friday, and also wouldn't say whether the man is still in Germany or in custody.

“We don’t comment on ongoing investigations or on personnel matters,” Fietz told reporters at a regular government news conference.

The Bild daily, without citing sources, reported that the man worked for the press office's visitor service, which organizes visits to political institutions in Berlin for German lawmakers' constituents. Fietz declined to confirm that, but said that people who work at the visitor service have no access to the other databases at the office, including those that contain reporters' accreditation details.

The German intelligence agency said that Egypt’s foreign and domestic intelligence services are active in Germany, principally in attempts to secure information on opponents of the government living there.

The federal prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The government press and information office is headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert. It is located not at the chancellery but at a separate headquarters about a kilometer (half a mile) away.

As of last year, it had some 476 employees — 418 of them in Berlin and the rest in the former German capital, Bonn.

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