Some cooperation resumes between German and US spy agencies
January 11, 2016 1 Comment
Cooperation on surveillance between German and American intelligence agencies has reportedly resumed following a row between the two countries that was caused by reports that the United States had spied on the German government. In 2014, Berlin expelled from Germany the US Central Intelligence Agency chief of station —essentially the top American intelligence official in the country— after two German government employees, one working for the BND, Germany’s main intelligence organization, were caught spying on Germany for the US. Relations were already tense due to prior revelations that the US National Security Agency, America’s signals intelligence organization, had bugged the personal cell phones of German politicians, including that of Chancellor Angela Merkel. In addition to expelling the CIA chief of station, the German government had reportedly instructed its intelligence agencies to limit their cooperation with their US counterparts “to the bare essentials”.
Last week, however, several German news media, including the respected newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung claimed that intelligence cooperation between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies had resumed. The Munich-based broadsheet wrote that “now the dispute is settled” and that the BND has begun giving the NSA access to intelligence gathered at its Bad Aibling listening station. The station, located in the small Bavarian town of Bad Aibling in southern Germany, is believed to be a key listening facility that gathers critical intelligence from North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the BND has been instructed by the Chancellery in Berlin to give the NSA access to raw intelligence from the Bad Aibling station and to invite the American intelligence agency to once again suggest targets for listening operations.
The reported change in the relationship status between the two intelligence organizations comes amid heightened security concerns in Europe following last November’s attacks in Paris, France, which killed 130 and injured hundreds more. Earlier this month, news reports emerged in Germany about an alleged “New Year’s Eve suicide plot” in Munich, which was allegedly averted after a tip-off by a Western intelligence agency. There is speculation that the warning was given to German intelligence by an American agency. Following the news reports, Germany’s Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, said that current security concerns called for a closer intelligence cooperation between German and foreign intelligence agencies.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung said on Friday that “cooperation between German and US intelligence services is running smoothly again”. However, the change only appears to apply to the electronic surveillance of targets. Relations between German and American intelligence agencies remain tense, and it will take time before intelligence relations between the two NATO allies are completely restored.
► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 11 January 2016 | Permalink