Germany ends spy treaty with US, UK, in response to Snowden leaks

Edward SnowdenBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The German government has announced the termination of a Cold-War era surveillance cooperation treaty with the United States and the United Kingdom in response to revelations made by American defector Edward Snowden. Snowden, a former computer expert for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), has been given political asylum in Russia. Earlier this summer, he told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel that the United States spies on the communications of Germany and other European Union countries with the same intensity it spies on China or Iraq. In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Snowden also revealed the existence of Project TEMPORA, operated by Britain’s foremost signals intelligence agency, the General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Snowden told the paper that GCHQ collected and stored massive quantities of foreign telephone call data and email messages, many of them from Germany, and shared them with its US counterpart, the NSA. On Friday, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, issued a statement saying that the government in Berlin had decided to scrap a longstanding surveillance cooperation agreement with Western countries in response to Snowden’s revelations. The agreement was signed in 1968 between the governments of West Germany, the US, UK, and France. It gave Western countries with military bases on West German soil the right to conduct surveillance operations in Germany in support of their military presence there. In the statement, Foreign Minister Westerwelle argued that the cancellation of the surveillance agreement was “a necessary and proper consequence of the recent debate about protecting personal privacy”. Read more of this post

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Germany summons Syrian ambassador following spy arrests

Ferhad AhmaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Germany has summoned the Syrian ambassador to Berlin after German counterintelligence officers arrested two Syrian nationals on espionage charges. The two men, believed to be employees of Syrian intelligence, have been identified as 34-year-old Akram O., a Syrian national, and Mahmoud El A., a German citizen of Lebanese descent. Both were arrested early on Tuesday morning, during a sting operation involving over 70 German counterintelligence operatives, who searched the suspects’ apartments. According to a statement by the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the two men are “strongly suspected” of having engaged “for years” in systematic surveillance against Syrian political figures in Germany, with particular focus on expatriate groups critical of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The statement added that German authorities are investigating the apartments of six alleged accomplices, suspected of assisting the two alleged spies. According to media reports, the counterintelligence operation was authorized after Ferhad Ahma, a Syrian-born elected official of the Green Party, was severely beaten at his apartment on December 26, by two men posing as German police officers. The Green Party launched a complaint with German police, suspecting that the two thugs were in fact Syrian government agents trying to intimidate Ahma, who is known in Germany for his strong criticism of the al-Assad regime. In announcing the diplomatic protest, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle told journalists that “any apparent activity against the Syrian opposition in Germany is in no way tolerable and a violation of [German] law”. Read more of this post

German spy helped facilitate Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Amidst the ongoing media frenzy over the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, few noticed that Germany was expressly thanked by the Israelis for its role in the deal. Speaking to journalists right after Shalit’s release, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was “grateful [to] German negotiators for helping facilitate the exchange. Commenting on Netanyahu’s statement, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, said simply that he was pleased because the German government was “able to contribute to Shalit’s release”. But what exactly was Germany’s role in arranging the deal? The answer was given on Tuesday by Ernst Uhrlau, director of Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Uhrlau hinted that BND officers had assisted Israel and Hamas in securing the unlikely agreement. Now Germany’s Suedeutsche Zeitung newspaper claims that it knows the identity of the BND officer who acted as the foremost mediator between Israel and Hamas. According to the paper, the officer’s name is Gerhard Konrad; he is 50 years old, six feet tall, and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Germany’s prestigious Heidelberg University. He speaks fluently French, English and Arabic, which he perfected while working in the Middle East “for several years”. He began his career with BND by representing the agency in German embassies in countries such as Syria and Lebanon. It was there, says Suedeutsche Zeitung, that Konrad cultivated relationships of trust with Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization-affiliated groups, such as Fatah. He also developed a strong reputation for negotiating with militant groups in adversary conditions. Read more of this post

Germany refuses to drop Mossad prosecution, despite Israeli pressure

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
German-Israeli relations sunk to a new low this week, after the German government rejected Israel’s call to drop a public investigation into the actions of a suspected Israeli spy. The alleged spy, whose travel documents identify him as “Uri Brodsky”, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. He is wanted by German prosecutors, not for directly participating in the assassination by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of senior Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as had been previously reported, but for procuring a forged German passport for the assassins. “Brodsky” appears to have traveled under the cover name of “Alexander Verin” to Cologne, Germany, where he employed the services of a lawyer to acquire the forged passport. It was later used used by Israeli Mossad agents to travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where al-Mabhouh was assassinated. Read more of this post

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