Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Germany defends intelligence co-operation with US

  • Anti-snooping protest in Berlin (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The German intelligence service (BND) has been co-operating "for decades" with the US, but only within legal boundaries, a German government spokesman said on Monday (8 July).

In an interview published on Sunday in Der Spiegel, fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden said the BND is "in bed" with the National Security Agency (NSA), supplying it with information as part of a secret surveillance programme tapping the Internet and phone data of US and European citizens.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert did not deny there is co-operation between the two services, but he said that the BND abides by German law.

"The BND has been co-operating for decades with partner agencies, including the NSA. We can only protect our citizens if we co-operate. This co-operation is following rules and laws very strictly and is subject to parliamentary control," he said.

He struck a more conciliatory tone compared to a week ago, when he spoke of "unacceptable" spying methods reminiscent of the "Cold War."

He said that after a phone conversation between Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama, the two countries are now in "permanent contact" about the affair and decided to set up working groups between experts both on bilateral and EU-US level to clarify these "complex matters."

However, neither the German justice minister nor the interior minister have so far received any replies to questionnaires addressed to their US counterparts.

Justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger from the Liberal Party, Merkel's junior coalition partner, has been vocal in opposing any further trade talks between the EU and the US "as long as they are spying our economy."

Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich will travel to Washington at the end of this week to discuss the matter with his American counterparts.

Seibert noted that"further questions" arising from the Snowden interview will be addressed within the relevant Bundestag committee, which already heard from the BND chief last week.

The meetings of the committee take place behind closed doors, however.

The members of this committee are also forbidden from saying anything about the content of the talks.

"Of course we still demand explanations. Us Liberals don't only expect the interior minister to deliver clear and comprehensive replies after his trip to Washington, but the government has to explain the extent of the cooperation between the BND and the NSA," Liberal MP Gisela Piltz told this website.

A member of the BND control committee, Piltz said she wants to improve the parliamentary scrutiny of this body, so that collaborators of the intelligence services who dare to speak up - like Snowden - are better protected.

Other Liberal politicians in Germany have demanded for Snowden to be granted asylum - but not the Liberal foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who points out that the US is a democracy and the justice system there is independent, which gives no grounds for political asylum.

An opinion poll carried out by Emnid end of June showed that 50 percent of Germans consider Snowden to be a hero and 35 percent would hide him in their homes.

Snowden is still stuck in a Moscow airport and has reportedly received asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

Merkel in tough spot over US spy scandal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her stance on the US spying affair, saying Washington needs more time to give all the answers and that she cannot force the US to change its laws.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  2. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  3. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  4. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  5. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  6. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  7. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  8. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund