The United States was accused of “modern piracy” after around 400,000 face masks bound for Germany were diverted to the U.S., according to German media reports.
According to Tagesspiegel, the masks were made in China and were supposed to be flown to Germany from Thailand, but instead were sent directly to the U.S.
The interior minister of Berlin’s regional government, Andreas Geisel, said the masks were “confiscated” at Bangkok airport.
“We consider this an act of modern piracy,” he said.
Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller also weighed in on Friday, taking aim at U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The action of the U.S. president is anything but one of solidarity or responsibility. It is inhuman and unacceptable. The federal government must insist to the U.S. that international rules are respected, including in times of the corona pandemic,” tweeted Müller, a member of the center-left Social Democrats.
The U.S. embassy in Berlin was not immediately available for comment.
The incident comes after reports of a similar situation involving France this week. On Wednesday, Libération reported that a shipment of masks en route to France had been diverted to the U.S.
The U.S. embassy in France denied the report, saying: “The United States government has not purchased any masks intended for delivery from China to France. Reports to the contrary are completely false.”
Also this week, Spanish media reported that it was becoming increasingly difficult for Spain to buy protective masks “in view of the massive purchases that the U.S.” is conducting in China.