Germany ‘might scrap’ no-spy treaty with US, UK, France

Thomas de MaizièreBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
The German government is considering scrapping a decades-old no-spy agreement with the three Allied victors of World War II, following the arrest of a German intelligence officer who was caught spying for the United States. The treaty was signed in 1945 between the German state and the governments of the United States, France and Britain. Their intelligence services are defined in the treaty as allied with Germany’s and are seen as working with Germany’s national interest in mind. Consequently, Berlin pledges not to direct counterespionage operations against French, American and British intelligence activities inside Germany. Implicit in the agreement is the understanding that these three countries can spy on German soil only when targeting non-German operatives in the country. However, in an interview with German tabloid newspaper Bild, Germany’s Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, said that Berlin is now seriously considering scrapping the postwar treaty, in response to the recent revelations about alleged espionage activities against Germany by the US Central Intelligence Agency. He was referring to news, aired last week, that an officer of the BND, Germany’s main external intelligence organization, was found to have spied for the CIA for over two years. On Monday, the Reuters news agency said it had confirmed that the alleged double spy had indeed been recruited by the CIA, and that the Agency’s Director, John Brennan, had asked to brief senior members of Congressional intelligence committees about the issue. Also on Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington that the US government would “work with the Germans to resolve this situation appropriately”. But these assurances seem to have done little to quell Berlin’s irritation. Another senior German politician, Stephan Mayer, who is close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Bild that it was time for German intelligence to “focus more strongly on our so-called allies”. Hans-Peter Uhl, another senior member of Mrs. Merkel’s party, argued in German newsmagazine Der Spiegel: “it goes without saying that the [American] intelligence officials responsible [for recruiting and handling the BND double spy] should be expelled from Germany”. Intelligence observers in Germany have described a potential scrapping of the no-spy agreement between Germany and the World War II Allied victors as “an unprecedented change in Germany’s counterintelligence outlook”.

3 Responses to Germany ‘might scrap’ no-spy treaty with US, UK, France

  1. Mike Walsh says:

    Assuming that the US conducts espionage in Germany (probably a very safe assumption, I know…) and that Germany reciprocates at least on a limited level, would the termination of this agreement change anything, other than political blustering for domestic audiences?

  2. Pete says:

    Hi Mike

    I think the main change will be that the Russians can feel and correctly claim that key Western allies are now openly divided. Snowden is protected by the Russians as a reward for this alliance splitting impact.


  3. Peter Wallerberger says:

    That domestic audience – Mike – just so happens to fund the very politicians who control the budget and direction of the BND. So, yes – if there’s enough adverse public reaction it will
    result in political pressure which will translate to action(s) and in this case very public ones as these politicians jockey for positions within their party’s and bow to public pressure.

    Any major change in international intelligence agreements is usually a big negative for all parties involved and it may be many years before trust is once again built up and the flow of intelligence resumed. It will also affect intra country trade and diplomatic positions and relationships.

    This is why the likes of E. Snowden and associates can and do cause such serious damage with their release of classified information – the end results are often exproportionate to the actual information released.

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