German intelligence spied on relief group in Afghanistan

It appears that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence service, is finding it impossible to stay out of the news headlines. In November, three deep-cover agents working for the BND were arrested and summarily expelled from the newly independent Balkan nation of Kosovo. Now Der Spiegel magazine reports that the spy agency has admitted conducting covert surveillance on the communications of ANSO, a German relief project active in Afghanistan. The project is administered by Welthungerhilfe (World Famine Aid), which is headquartered in Bonn. According to a BND spokesperson, the surveillance was “aimed at picking up signs of terrorist threats or other dangers [and] may have been unconstitutional”. Since the end of the Cold Wa, the BND has been very prone to unconstitutional activities. In 2006, a government investigation revealed that the spy agency had been “breaking [German] law by gathering information about journalists and using fellow members of media as informants until quite recently”. [JF]

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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