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1st Oct 2020

Germany spied on France and EU commission: Report

  • The German intelligence agency reportedly spied on French and EU officials from the Bad Aibling spying station in Bavaria (Photo: Johannes W. Dietrich)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has been embarrassed by reports that the country's intelligence service was spying on France and the European Commission for the US National security agency (NSA).

According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Thursday (30 April), the BND, the German intelligence service, listened in on officials from the French presidency and foreign affairs ministry, as well as the EU Commission.

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Phone tapping was done from the BND’s Bad Aibling spying station in Bavaria and information was transmitted to the NSA under an agreement signed in 2002, writes the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The newspaper does not specify when and for how long spying on France and the EU occurred.

Bad Aibling station is a former US espionage base handed over to the BND in 2004, where the NSA kept a secret office, according to earlier reports by Der Spiegel magazine.

These revelations come after reports that the BND also spied on European companies such as defence companies EADS and Eurocopter and that the Chancellor’s office was aware of the situation since at least 2008.


In 2008 and 2010, the BND sent notes to Angela Merkel’s chief of staff at the time, Thomas de Maiziere, who is now Germany’s Interior minister.

De Maiziere, one of Merkel’s closest allies, is now being accused of lying for saying last August the Chancellery had no information on German spying for the NSA.

In an ironic twist, the scale of German-US intelligence cooperation came to light because the Bundestag’s intelligence committee has been investigating claims that the NSA had wiretapped Merkel’s mobile phone.

Companies were spied on because "the US was looking for clues on illegal exports", writes the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The potentially most damaging revelation for Merkel, however, is that Germany spied on its closest ally, France, and on the EU, for another power whose interest are not always convergent with Germany’s, France’s or the EU’s interests.

"The core of the issue is the political espionage of our European neighbours and of the EU institutions," a German official is quoted as saying by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Neither France nor the EU Commission have reacted yet.

At a debate at the European parliament on Tuesday (28 April), before the latest informations, Justice commissioner Vera Jourova said intelligence was a national, not a EU competence.

"Many facts remain unexplained. The problem of cooperation between member states’ intelligence services has to be resolved by member states in priority," she said.

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