The dismissal of the foreign intelligence boss comes as fears grow about an Isis attack in Germany
The head of Germanys BND foreign intelligence agency is being pushed out of his job, government sources have said, in a surprise move that comes at a time when Germany faces a growing threat from Islamic militants.
It was not immediately clear why Gerhard Schindler, who has led Germanys version of the US Central Intelligence Agency since 2012, was being removed two years before he reaches retirement age.
Schindler, 63, came under pressure a year ago when it emerged that the BND had gone against German interests and spied on European partners at the request of the US National Security Agency.
But he appeared to have weathered that scandal after promising to centralise control over BND field offices, which he admitted had taken on a life of their own.
Schindlers dismissal comes after Islamic State militant attacks in Brussels last month and in Paris last November raised questions about European intelligence cooperation. Germany, which has not suffered a major attack by Islamic militants on its soil, is supplying weapons and logistical support to local forces fighting the militant group in Syria and Iraq and has been declared a primary target.
Neither the German government nor the BND was immediately available to comment on Schindlers departure. But chancellor Angela Merkels chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, had earlier invited reporters for a briefing on Wednesday.
German daily Sddeutsche Zeitung and broadcasters NDR and WDR first reported that Schindler would be removed. They said he was due to be replaced by Bruno Kahl, a finance ministry official who is said to be a close ally of finance minister Wolfgang Schuble.
Earlier this month, the BND celebrated its 60th anniversary. Long based in Pullach in southern Germany, it is due to move into brand new headquarters in central Berlin next year.