Germany declines comment on Kosovo spy report

PRISTINA Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:57pm EST

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PRISTINA (Reuters) - Germany declined to comment on Saturday on reports that three Germans arrested on suspicion of throwing explosives at an EU office in Kosovo were intelligence officers.

The explosive charge was thrown on November 14 at the International Civilian Office (ICO), the office of EU Special Representative Pieter Feith, who oversees Kosovo's governance, but caused only minor damage. The men were detained on Thursday.

The three were questioned on Saturday by a Pristina district court judge who ordered them to be detained until December 22.

A defense lawyer told reporters that the three were suspected of having committed an act of terrorism.

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that three Germans had been arrested, but declined to make any further comment as an investigation was under way.

A police source in Kosovo told Reuters: "They are members of the BND," but gave no further details.

The German weekly Der Spiegel also said the men worked for the German intelligence agency BND, and that they had told investigators they had been examining the scene of the explosion, but had not been involved in it.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February after nine years under U.N. stewardship and is recognized by more than 50 countries, including Germany.

Four days before the bomb attack, its leaders rejected a plan by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's for the deployment of an EU police and justice mission, EULEX.

Der Spiegel said the BND agents had not been officially registered with Kosovo authorities, which would have secured them diplomatic immunity.

A judge in Pristina was due to decide on Saturday whether to extend the men's detention or release them on bail.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Writing by Kerstin Gemlich and Ivana Sekularac. Editing by Richard Williams)

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