05302020

US debunks Berlin leaders’ allegations that it seized 200,000 face masks amid coronavirus pandemic


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BERLIN – The U.S. government and German commentators sharply criticized officials in Berlin for manufacturing a scandal, alleging that the Trump administration improperly seized 200,000 face masks destined for police in the city during the coronavirus pandemic.

Without providing evidence, Andreas Geisel, the Social Democratic interior minister for the Berlin city-state, claimed on Friday that the U.S. intercepted and seized the masks. He termed it “an act of modern piracy” and added, “Even in times of global crisis there should be no Wild West methods.”

Geisel was a member of the East Germany communist party until 1989.

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Berlin’s Social Democratic mayor, Michael Müller, tweeted: “The actions of the U.S. president do not just betray a lack of solidarity, they are inhumane and irresponsible.”

Richard Grenell, the acting U.S. director of national intelligence and America’s ambassador to the Federal Republic, told Fox News exclusively on Tuesday that the actions of Berlin government officials shows their “anti-Americanism.”

“Just last week the German newspaper Die Welt started a fake news story suggesting that President Trump was targeting CureVac. It took U.S. officials many days in the midst of the COVID crisis to prove the story was flat wrong,” Grenell said. “Sadly, Welt Editor Johannes Boie refused to correct the story because he said some German politicians ‘early on’ seemed to confirm the story.”

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CureVac, a German biopharmaceutical company, is one of more than 40 firms across the world working on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. It denied a report last month in Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the U.S. government was trying to buy it and get it to relocate to America.

Due to the contact restrictions caused by the new coronavirus outbreak only a few people walk on the famous ‘Alexanderplatz’ (Alexander Square) in Berlin, Germany, Friday, April 3, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung paper called the Welt am Sonntag report “fake news.”

“Now we have the mayor of Berlin, once again, blaming America. His anti-Americanism is well known. It doesn’t surprise anyone that he pushes another fake story that the White House intervened in a mask purchase in Thailand for the Berlin police,” Grenell continued. “It isn’t true. One of the lessons coming out of this COVID crisis is that reporters need to check facts before speculating and spreading misinformation.”

Müller permits an annual pro-Iranian regime march and rally to take place in the heart of Berlin’s main shopping district. The Al-Quds Day event is a showcase for anti-Americanism and genocidal anti-Semitism, sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The rally’s counterparts in Iran feature such slogans as “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” and Israeli and American flags are burned.

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Politico wrote on Monday that “it was the Berliners who shot before asking questions.”

“Not only is there no evidence that the U.S. confiscated the masks in Thailand (where Washington has no jurisdiction), so far there’s no proof that the shipment in question even ended up in the U.S.” the news outlet continued.

According to German media reports, Chinese manufacturer 3M produced the masks for the U.S.

The company has flatly denied Geisel and Müller’s allegations, stating in a statement: “3M has no evidence to suggest 3M products have been seized. 3M has no record of any order of respirators from China for the Berlin police. We cannot speculate where this report originated.”

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin issued a series of tweets citing articles in the U.S. and German media that exposed the lack of evidence for the anti-American allegations.

Citing the Berliner Zeitung daily, the embassy tweeted: “@berlinerzeitung: ‘…the Senate [of Berlin, the executive body governing the city-state] based its accusations against the U.S. gov’t on only 1 source − and the #Berlin interior admin has already had to admit mistakes: On Sat. morning it declared the police had not ordered the masks from a US company, as was still claimed on Friday.’”

In another tweet, the embassy quoted the German news outlet n-tv: “Contrary to the claims of Berlin’s Interior Minister Andreas Geisel, the U.S. government did not intercept any masks intended for the German capital and divert them to its own country.”

Geisel doubled down on his allegations on Monday.

Peter Tiede, writing in a commentary for Germany’s largest-circulation paper, Bild, called the Berlin politicians an “embarrassment.” He termed all of the accusations against the U.S. “false.”

“The senate’s interior minister is no longer just a problem for Berliners. He has become a burden for Germany: Irresponsible. Populist. Cheap anti-Americanism,” wrote Tiede.

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The Bild commentator slammed the “anti-U.S. reflex” of the powers that be in Berlin, noting that they have forgotten the role that America played in preserving German freedom during the Cold War and in contributing to the fall of communism.



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