Exclusive: Germany To Spy On U.S. Intel, Other Allies
The decision comes in response to Snowden's NSA revelations, and follows two recent cases of German officials accused of spying for the U.S.
BERLIN —The German federal government intends to start spying on the secret service activities in Germany of countries with which it maintains good relations, Süddeutsche Zeitung has learned. The decision is the result of months of discussion between the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Federal Foreign Office.
The so-called “360-degree-view” should make it possible to also keep tabs on American and British agents on German soil. Until now, the focus has been on the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians.
The decision is in direct reaction to the recent accusations against the CIA of spying in Germany. An employee of BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, has admitted working as an agent for the U.S. for two years, while a worker at the German Ministry of Defense has denied charges of doing the same. After these incidents came to light, the CIA station chief in Berlin was forced to leave Germany.
The plan to monitor the secret services of “friendly” countries was developed last year by Chancellor Merkel in reaction to the NSA affair and the tapping of her personal cell phone. However, the federal government hesitated for a long time to implement it, mainly because it was worried about a conflict with the U.S.
"But we now need to send a strong signal," a source close to the decision told Süddeutsche Zeitung, adding that the measures were purely defensive. The BND has no intention of spying on American soil.
What dimensions the surveillance will take has yet to be established. When asked, the Ministry of the Interior chose not to comment on such details. However, along with observation, a main focus will be monitoring communication in embassies and consulates.
According to the BND employee in custody, he communicated with the U.S. Embassy in Berlin via e-mail.