Berlin : German prosecutors have opened a probe against three Swiss intelligence agents on suspicion of spying on German authorities hunting tax cheats in a case that has strained cross-border relations, local media reported on Monday.

The new investigation by federal prosecutors is related to the arrest in April of a Swiss man, identified as Daniel M, 54, who is accused of carrying out espionage activities against German finance inspectors since 2012, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported in cooperation with public broadcasters NDR and WDR.

According to the report, the probe launched in early August is highly unusual between western allies and underlines how seriously Germany is taking the case of Daniel M, who has been charged with spying for Switzerland’s NDB intelligence service on German authorities hunting tax cheats.

The three new suspects, who also work for the NDB, have not been named.

The case has created serious friction between the neighbours, with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel upbraiding Switzerland after Daniel M ‘s arrest, calling the case “incredible” and expressing hope it would not “wreck” the countries’ good relationship.

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