US spies on Germany, EU agencies, as much as on China and Iraq

European Union offices in Washington, DCBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
America spies on the communications of German and other European Union agencies with the same intensity it spies on China and Iraq, documents show. German newsmagazine Der Spiegel aired these claims on Sunday, based on documents it said it obtained from American whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden, a former technical expert with the Central Intelligence Agency, remains holed up inside the transit section of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, as Russian authorities have rejected repeated requests by Washington to extradite him to the US. According to Spiegel, American intelligence operatives placed interception equipment in the offices of the European Union’s representation in Washington, DC, before infiltrating the building’s computer network. Similar methods were aimed at the EU’s official representation to the United Nations in New York, and even in Brussels, Belgium, where the EU is headquartered. In a separate article, also published on Sunday, Der Spiegel said the National Security Agency, America’s foremost communications interception agency, monitors data from over half a billion communications exchanges taking place in Germany each month. The data is derived from telephone calls, emails, mobile text messages, and even chat transcripts, said the newsmagazine. The information appears to suggest that United States communications intelligence agencies are far more active in Germany than in any other of the EU’s 28 member states. Late on Sunday, a spokeswoman at the Office of the German Federal Prosecutor told Spiegel that the question of whether German citizens’ rights have been violated by illegal American intelligence activities is currently being looked at, and that “criminal charges” relating to the spying revelations “appear likely”. The German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who last week communicated an official complaint to the British government over similar allegations, told German media that, if Spiegel’s reports are accurate, then the affair would be “reminiscent of methods used by our enemies during the Cold War”. The German newsmagazine reported late on Sunday that EU officials appear genuinley “outraged” and some have urged suspension of trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement talks. It also quoted German politician Martin Schulz, President of the EU Parliament, as saying that, if Snowden’s allegations are true, it would be “a huge scandal and a huge burden for relations between the EU and the US”. Spiegel promised more revelations for Monday.

18 Responses to US spies on Germany, EU agencies, as much as on China and Iraq

  1. mopsie says:

    I’m surprised that Correa seems to have done a complete reversal on offering asylum to Snowden. It doesn’t seem likely that he would have backed off another fine opportunity to confront and oppose the US without something pretty sweet having been promised to him/ecuador. What is the US giving Ecuador and how will the US cool the EU’s ‘outrage’?
    It’s pretty accepted that countries will spy to deflect a threat, but why the spying on allies who pose no threat? Is it acceptable to spy on friends in order to control and manipulate them?

    i keep thinking- oh, what a tangled web we weave…
    The US is a spider that got caught in its own web.

  2. TFH says:

    ” … claim different author identities under the same IP address.”

    Some, like myself do travel between IP addresses. Would it not be better to require some encryption solution to the proving of identity issue.

  3. Ten consecutive Snowden revelations articles at the English language Der Spiegel website is, I think unprecedented coverage of any issue.


    While John Jerry is basically saying ‘much ado about nothing’ (according to the BBC) the story only gains traction. The most idiotic statement so far seems to have been the German Justice minister (of the nearing extinction the ‘business friendly’ Free Democrats in alliance with Merkel)

    “the [British] response didn’t go far enough to contain a scandal of this proportion.”

    Which seems to be saying damage control is more important than meeting any problems head on. Statements like that and German elections are this early Fall season, for a government with leadership apparently void of any ability to think on its feet.

  4. ^ typo, John Kerry

  5. saeede adam says:

    no wonder this will happen.i do not understand why the rest of the world would contnue to form ally with those who say they have permanent interest but do not have permanent friend.i think that of saudi arabia will be next

  6. mopsie says:

    like kissinger said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” I’d bet mcgregor’s farm that the NSA hears every burp coming from their ‘friends’ in KSA.

  7. Pete says:

    Looking at the pattern of Snowden’s revelations, in the form of well placed media exclusives, I think Snowden must have concluded very lucrative contracts with the Guardian, NYT and now also Der Spiegel.

    Every developed country uses sigint but Snowden has only talked about the Western alliance as international sigint collectors.

    Given this I think Snowden, knowingly or unknowingly is working for the other side,

    – that is working the for places that have harboured him, China and now Russia, while he makes money.


  8. Pete says:

    The publically “shocked” EU politicians and the especially shocked German leadership only have to look at their national sigint services that have been open for business for over a century. This will provide the essential contextual information that Snowden’s (for money) exclusives conveniently leave out.

  9. TFH says:

    @Pete. You can be sure that when US finally left Germany (if they ever did) there was files in abundance on ordinary citizens that might possibly, maybe go into politics.

  10. Pete says:


    But Stasi working with the KGB (now FSB) were the main problem. When the people of East Germany rose up they tore apart Stasi, then ejected the KGB and the Russian Army. Voting with their feet Germans embraced Western freedoms including the protection provided by NATO against the Russians.

    Its funny when given a choice you always blame the West and/or the US. Do you forget or were you too young to know?

  11. TFH says:

    @Pete. I used to believe in the west, particularly in the USA but then I grew older and noticed that USA as today’s supreme power was as dangerous to the dissenting individual as the old power freaks and the right to dissent is a very important human right.

  12. TFH says:

    And just to clarify I do believe USA is at the forefront of guarding human rights, it’s just that lately she has started to backtrack on inalienable rights using the excuse of terrorism and for the world that is bad.

  13. Pete says:

    Hi TFH

    I think at any period in US history there has been the complexity that you suggest. Until more recent times, being black, female, Jewish, Irish, Chinese, Hispanic, Catholic, anti-draft, Communist or even socialist marginalised one’s prospects and even freedom.

    As I see it the best indicator between societies is where people vote with their feet. Millions of Chinese and other third world students have studied in the US, UK and Australia with the hope of ultimately living here – many do. There is little reverse flow of people wishing to study or live in China. Russia has been experiencing a decline in population such are people’s choices.

    People choose where they have the best prospects which includes more freedom.

    Snowden’s revelations just indicate that all countries spy on their own people and other people.



  14. TFH says:

    The danger to U.S. citizens is the co-op between public and private interests (as I think was noted in a comment here at Intel News (maybe the Economist blog)). Big corporations support political parties in the U.S. in a big way as they are allowed to by current law, what if a individual causes one of those corporations some serious trouble, would it be imaginable that the corporations would ask for a favor like access to that individuals files, see if they can find something to stop or slow that individual down?

  15. Pete says:

    Equally those European’s who are Russians who are currently or formally FSB have FSB connected companies or contracts on the side. Some former KGB/FSB run Russian or CIS Republics or Russia itself – a la Putin.

  16. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Perhaps I missed reading it (?) Pete – But I find it rather odd that Snowden has not ‘directly ‘(country specific) targeted the C.S.I.S yet.

    Given the Delisle affair you would think his Master(s) would jump at the opportunity to apply pressure or maybe it would be counterproductive ….. if they have important residual assets remaining ‘in place’ in this area which enables access to both UKUSA & NATO SIGINT. ?

  17. mopsie says:

    re- “Snowden’s revelations just indicate that all countries spy on their own people and other people.”

    now that we’ve admitted that everyone’s doing it, can we stop complaining when others peek at our junk? are there any rules or limits to who can look at what? if govs can spy on ppl, can people spy on gov?

  18. Pete says:


    Yes there’s much about Snowden’s attitude, past and current dealings with Russia that the West may never know about. I don’t know much about the Delisle biz.



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