Germany probes UK spy program revealed by CIA whistleblower
June 27, 2013 14 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Germany wants to know whether its citizens were spied on under a British government surveillance program revealed by American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. The program, codenamed Project TEMPORA, was disclosed earlier this week by Snowden, a former technical assistant for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Snowden remains holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, as Russian authorities have rejected repeated requests by Washington to extradite him to the US. According to British newspaper The Guardian, which first wrote about Project TEMPORA on June 21, Britain’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been able to “plug into the cables that carry internet traffic into and out” of the United Kingdom. The agency, which is tasked with communications interception, has therefore collected and stored massive quantities of foreign telephone call data and email messages, and has shared much of it with its US counterpart, the National Security Agency. On June 25, Germany’s Federal Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, wrote a letter to her British counterpart, Chris Grayling, asking for immediate clarification on the precise legal basis for Project TEMPORA. In her letter, which was copied to the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, the German cabinet minister also inquires whether TEMPORA has been authorized by the appropriate judicial authorities. She argues that “European institutions should shed light on this [issue] immediately” and warns her British colleagues that she plans to raise the subject during the July 2013 meeting of European Union Justice and Home Affairs ministers, which will be held in Brussels, Belgium. “I feel that these issues must be raised in a European Union context at minsters’ level and should be discussed in the context of ongoing discussions on the EU data protection regulation”, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger writes in her letter. International news agencies report from Berlin that the German minister’s letter reflects “growing anger in Germany at the disclosures” made by Snowden. London’s response is unlikely to diffuse the tension in Germany. On Tuesday night, Britain’s Justice Ministry said it would respond to the German government’s query “in due course”. On Wednesday, the German Press Agency said it had seen the British response to Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. It was allegedly a brief letter, consisting of “just three lines”, which advises the German government to “address its concerns directly to the intelligence services” of Britain.