Berlin - German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has relieved the country's cybersecurity chief of his duties on allegations of having excessively close relations to Russia, a ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Arne Schoenbohm has been forbidden from continuing his job as president of the BSI federal information security agency with immediate effect, the spokesperson said.

Various media outlets reported last week that Schoenbohm could have had contacts with people involved with Russian security services through the Cyber Security Council of Germany.

Schoenbohm was a founder of the association, which counts as a member a German company that is a subsidiary of a Russian cybersecurity firm founded by a former KGB employee, they wrote.

The association has rejected such connections as absurd.

Founded in 2012, the Cyber Security Council of Germany advises companies, politicians and authorities on cybersecurity matters and describes itself as politically neutral.

Schoenbohm's removal from office was first reported by Der Spiegel. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"The background to this is not least the allegations, which are well known and widely discussed in the media, and which have permanently damaged the necessary public confidence in the neutrality and impartiality of the conduct of his office as president of Germany's most important cybersecurity authority," the ministry spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, Alexander Ratz; writing by Miranda Murray; editing by Matthias Williams and Bernadette Baum)