News / Europe

Germany Defends Its Cooperation with NSA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 8, 2013.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 8, 2013.
Reuters
Angela Merkel's government said on Monday that its cooperation with American intelligence was fully regulated by strict legal guidelines after a magazine reported that the U.S. National Security Agency was in close cahoots with German spies.
 
Germany's opposition, with an eye on September's election, when the chancellor will seek a third term, demanded that her government explain how much it knew about U.S. surveillance tactics ahead of talks with Washington about the NSA.
 
“In the light of the latest media reports, it is even more urgent to ask what Germany's secret services and above all what the Chancellery knew about eavesdropping activities,” said the Social Democrats' (SPD) chancellor candidate, Peer Steinbrueck.
 
Der Spiegel's report that the NSA works with Germany and other Western states on a 'no questions asked'-basis undermines the chancellor's indignant talk of “Cold War” tactics revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
 
“They are in bed with the Germans, just like with most other Western states,” Snowden said in an interview in Der Spiegel.
 
“Other agencies don't ask us where we got the information from and we don't ask them,” he said. “That way they can protect their top politicians from the backlash in case it emerges how massively people's privacy is abused worldwide.”
 
Germany has publicly demanded explanations for Snowden's allegations of large-scale spying by the NSA, and by Britain via a program codenamed 'Tempora', on their allies including Germany and other European Union states, as well as EU institutions and embassies.
 
'Legal framework'
 
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference that talks between European Union and U.S. experts starting in Washington on Monday, in parallel to transatlantic free trade talks starting this week, should clarify the NSA's activities.
 
“The Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) cooperates within its legal framework with partner agencies, including for decades the NSA,” he told a news conference. The BND is Germany's main overseas intelligence agency.
 
“In the fight against terrorist threats, we can only protect the population if we cooperate with others. This cooperation takes place within strict legal and judicial guidelines and is controlled by the competent parliamentary committee,” he said.
 
Merkel has said Germany has avoided terrorist attacks thanks to tip-offs from its allies, while at the same time saying that U.S. and British snooping on close EU allies, if confirmed, would be unacceptable “Cold War” methodology.
 
She has spoken directly with President Barack Obama about the reports that the United States has bugged electronic communications and institutions in Germany and elsewhere in the EU, and is sending her interior minister to Washington this week.
 
Intelligence agencies are coordinated by Merkel's office and overseen by a parliamentary committee, whose deliberations - including testimony about the NSA from the head of the BND last week - are secret. Germany's domestic spy agency has said it did not know about such extensive U.S. and British eavesdropping.
 
But the opposition insists that Merkel or her chief of staff Ronald Pofalla, who coordinates the secret services, must have known more.
 
“The citizens of our country should be able to trust in the secret services respecting the law and their rights,” said Steinbrueck. “All the facts must be put on the table.”

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid