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

Edward SnowdenBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
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”. But the Associated Press news agency quoted an unnamed German government source as saying that the surveillance pact had not been invoked in over 20 years, and that its annulment was a “largely symbolic” move by Berlin. The source added that the cancellation of the agreement would have “no impact” on current intelligence-sharing arrangements between Germany, the US and the UK. The Associated Press also quoted a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson as saying that the canceled agreement had been “a loose end from a previous era” and had remained practically dormant since the end of the Cold War. The report also cited Dr. Henninng Riecke, head of the German Council on Foreign Relations’ Transatlantic Relations Program. He argued that Germany had to “do something to demonstrate at home that it was taking the issue seriously”, while at the same time letting “the Americans know [its response was] not going to hurt them”.

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

  1. Anonymous says:

    I find it hard to believe that the countries where the US/UK were given permission to be spying were not aware of the spying…

  2. Paul says:

    And the Germans don’t, of course!

  3. Kidd says:

    so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen , good night, adieu adieu adieu to yieu esss ayyyy

  4. Anonymous says:

    Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war . . .Aristophanes

  5. TFH says:

    @Anonymous – The Germans did not give permission for spying on their trade negotiators. One thing is to give permission for surveillance to combat terrorism and organized crime, another matter entirely when the spies use the permission for industrial and economical gains.

  6. Pete says:

    Re “The agreement was signed in 1968 between the governments of West Germany, the US, UK, and France. ”

    Judging by the date of the agreement and the signatories this agreement could be seen in the context of the three Western powers (UK, US, France) that occupied what was West Berlin renewing or legalizing the intention of collecting sigint and maybe humint in/from East Germany.

    By East Germany this means not only East German targets but also the large Russian military and intelligence presence in that country at the time.


    Reblogged this on THEJNSREPORT and commented:
    Just more of the same. Intense surveillance no privacy anywhere I hear Hobbits off in the background envisioning seeing the all seeing eye.

  8. Anonymous says:


    Then they are either very naive or simply stupid. There is a long history of allies spying on each other in all capacities.

  9. TFH says:


    True that, but it does little for mutual trust and real cooperation.

  10. TFH says:


    P.S. Remember that the 9-11 crew were based in Germany and originally intended to attack in Tjetsnia but then met someone there who changed their mind, according to the official story anyway.

  11. Tom T says:

    Most people really do not care about the semantics of what the Snowden leaks have revealed, but as a serious student of these matters I think it is important to not the distinction between collection and actual surveillance. There apparently does not seem to be a doubt that bulk collections of some form are on going according to open source reporting, but to then construe that as actual surveillance as in the persistent observation and reporting on a person or place for locational and pattern of life intelligence is misleading and false. Just because you have a phone in the US or UK that had been collected on does not mean you have NSA/GCHQ analysts picking through it anymore than you would have IRS employees picking through personal data in tax records. One I suppose could argue that the capabilty is there and that could be very dangerous, but then again of course our governments and others are capable of accessing any of our digitized transactions/communications either through collection, warrant, or subpoena. We give our police forces arms and we are not worried constantly about being killed by them (at least much in the US and UK, obviously not the same in other places). As for spying on allies, that is only news to the uninitiated on foreign policy and governance. Most of these announcements by Germany feel more for domestic/European consumption than anything else. Of course, you must say something, so I don’t blame Merkel’s administration.

    The other funny thing regarding America, didn’t the Congress essentially legally allow such collection techniques via the Patriot Act? So why so surprised, besides the political optics of it. They are the ones with oversight! So if something went awry they already knew about it and are suppose to represent their American constituents’ concerns. I think the real issue in all of this is a growing distrust (even more than usual!) of politicians and power in America. And on that point I don’t fully disagree.

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