Friday

21st Jul 2017

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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary