Monday

8th Mar 2021

German spy scandal deepens

The German intelligence service has spied on European and American embassies in ways that may have been beyond its mandate, German media ARD and Spiegel Online reported on Wednesday (14 October).

The Bundesnachtrichtendienst (BND) reportedly targeted French and US institutions and eavesdropped on them to acquire information about countries like Afghanistan.

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The news follows reports in April that the BND spied on France and the European Commission on behalf of the US' National Security Agency (NSA). But according to the new reports, BND also spied on allies on its own initiative.

For its spying programme, the BND used thousands of search queries, so-called selectors, including phone numbers and IP addresses, possibly queries the service chose itself.

"The question is … whether the used queries were covered by the BND's mandate”, MP Clemens Binninger of chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right CDU party told ARD.

Binninger is head of the Bundestag's supervisory body that oversees the intelligence service.

The German media sourced their news at a secret meeting of the overseeing body on Wednesday evening.

The revelations are remarkable considering the criticism that followed revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013 that the NSA had spied on EU leaders, including Merkel.

"Spying among friends – that is just not done", Merkel said following the scandal.

The BND programme stopped around the same time as the Snowden revelations revealed the NSA practices, in the autumn of 2013.

German MPs are planning to interview staff next week at the BND headquarters in Pullach and review the list of search queries to determine if there has been any illegal practice.

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