Germany spied on friendly powers

2015-10-15 16:55

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Berlin - Message traffic by friendly powers may have been among potential targets of snooping by the German spy agency until two years ago, legislators said on Thursday.

The BND, or Bundesnachrichtendienst, intercepts data streams from satellite communications, fishing out messages by spotting email addresses, telephone numbers and words of interest.

Some of these "selectors" in use until the end of 2013 been "highly questionable", Andre Hahn, chair of the parliamentary oversight committee on the intelligence services, said in Berlin. The committee was briefed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's aides the previous day.

The admission could fuel allegations of hypocrisy against Merkel, who rebuked the United States in October 2013, saying, "Listening in among friends, that's not right," after data from whistle-blower Edward Snowden indicated her own mobile phone had been monitored.

Another member of the committee, Hans-Christian Stroebele, said he was not authorised to disclose anything from the Wednesday briefing, but had no grounds to deny a report by Spiegel magazine that embassies, other agencies of EU nations and US agencies were targets.

It was not clear if any secret information had actually been obtained by the Germans. The committee is investigating what selectors were in use until Merkel's office ordered a revision of the selectors used in a joint US-BND operation to ensure no EU allies were spied on.

A "task force" of the committee is to visit the BND headquarters at Pullach on the outskirts of Munich next week to demand more information on the communications monitoring up to 2013.

The issue is politically sensitive in Germany, where monitoring must be expressly authorised by law and there is deep public distaste for mass monitoring of communications without any court warrant.

Read more on:    germany  |  us  |  internet security  |  espionage

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