Thursday

25th Aug 2016

US snoopers were 'in bed' with German intelligence

  • Merkel said spying on one's friends is unacceptable (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

America's National Security Agency works so closely with its European counterparts, it is likely that some EU leaders knew about its snooping operations.

Fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden told German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview made in May, but published on Sunday (7 July), that Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, is “in bed” with the NSA.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said they co-operate in such a way as to “insulate their political leaders from the backlash” should the details of their operations made public.

The NSA, he noted, has a Foreign Affairs Directorate, whose task is to form and shape the co-operation with foreign intelligence agencies of allied countries.

He added the US agency also works with other Western equivalents in on a “no questions asked” basis.

“Other agencies don't ask us where we got the information from and we don't ask them. That way they can protect their top politicians from the backlash in case it emerges how massively people's privacy is abused worldwide," he said.

Documents released by Snowden to Der Spiegel revealed the NSA monitored up to 60 million daily telephone calls and around 10 million Internet data sets in Germany.

Germany was the most snooped on European state by the Americans.

The disclosure caused public uproar in a country where government surveillance is a sensitive issue due to abuses by the East German secret police, the Stasi, in Communist times.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has described the US-led spying charges as “Cold War” tactics and asked for explanations from US president Barack Obama.

She said the two partners must establish trust in the lead up to the US-EU free trade negotiations that start Monday.

But the fresh disclosures by Der Spiegel have prompted opposition leaders to ask how much she knew and to what extent her reaction is sincere.

The German magazine also reports the scope of the BND’s partnership with the NSA is more widespread than previously thought.

It notes that the BND monitors signals of foreign data streams that pass through Germany with analysis tools provided by the NSA.

BND head Gerhard Schindler confirmed the working relationship during a meeting with members of the German parliament's control committee for intelligence issues.

The European Commission, for its part, is setting up working groups with the Americans to discuss the snooping charges.

But some member states, like the United Kingdom and Sweden, say the EU has no competence over national security issues and can only discuss how the programmes affect the privacy rights of EU citizens.

News in Brief

  1. Switzerland sees increase in migrants from Italy
  2. Norway to build Arctic border fence
  3. Brexit leader Farage addresses Trump rally
  4. Finland holds 'IS fighter' over 2014 Iraq mass killing
  5. Commission allows Portuguese bank recapitalisation
  6. Ex-commissioner: my rules on emissions are not vague
  7. Leading Danish MEP steps down from post
  8. US cooperating with Turkey on Gulen extradition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  2. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  3. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  4. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  5. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  6. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  7. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  8. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  9. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  10. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  11. Counter BalanceThe Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  12. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016