A senior German politician on Friday accused the Trump administration of “modern piracy” after nearly 200,000 face masks ordered by Germany were seized by U.S. authorities.
Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for Berlin state, confirmed media reports that about 200,000 FFP2 masks purchased for the Berlin police were seized at an airport in the Thai capital Bangkok following intervention by American authorities.
“We view this as an act of modern piracy,” he said in a written statement, stressing that such behavior between transatlantic partners is unacceptable.
"Even in times of global crisis there should be no wild west methods. I am urging the [German] federal government to demand the U.S.A. respect international rules,” he added.
According to German public broadcaster RBB, Berlin had purchased the masks from U.S. company 3M, which has factories in China.
The shipment destined for Germany was stopped at the Bangkok airport following intervention by American authorities and was diverted to the U.S., local media reported.
The Trump administration has been accused of pursuing a haphazard, “every man for himself” policy on equipment needed to deal with the pandemic.
The rapid spread of coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks, while many countries are facing shortages.
Germany is the third-worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe after Italy and Spain.
Germany's death toll rose to 1,217 on Friday, while the total number of cases surpassed 89,500.
Data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surging past 1 million, with more than 55,100 deaths. Over 221,200 people have recovered.