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German foreign ministry says U.S. top spy has left the country

The CIA station chief in Berlin who was told to leave by Germany due to new allegations of U.S. spying has now left the country, a spokesman for Germany's foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The CIA declined to comment on Thursday. A U.S. official had previously told Reuters the spy would leave Germany by the end of the week.

Last week, Berlin said it had discovered a suspected U.S. spy in the defense ministry - just days after a German foreign intelligence worker was arrested on suspicion of being a CIA informant and admitted passing documents to a U.S. contact.

The scandal has cooled relations between Berlin and Washington to levels not seen since Merkel's predecessor opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. It follows allegations last year that American agents bugged Merkel's phone.

U.S. officials said the station chief had not been expelled from the country or officially declared "persona non grata" by the German government, but had been asked to leave - though there was an implicit threat he would be thrown out if he did not leave voluntarily.

Former and current U.S. officials accuse the German government of being hypocritical in its increasingly shrill complaints about American spying. They say they have little doubt the Germans on occasion have mounted spy operations directed against the US.

[Source: Reuters, Berlin and Washington, 17Jul14]

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