Thursday

21st Jun 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

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.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us