World Bulletin / News Desk
German lawmakers have voiced their anger over the U.S. intelligence agency NSA’s alleged widespread surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel and several other German ministers and bureaucrats.
At the German parliament Thursday, Martina Renner, a senior lawmaker from the opposition Left Party, said that the recent revelations strengthened suspicions that the NSA had long carried out economic and industrial espionage in Germany and Europe, and tried to monitor economic, trade and finance policies of the German government.
Renner, who is also a member of the parliament’s NSA investigation committee, called on the German government to immediately inform the parliament about the scope of the latest scandal, as well as the diplomatic steps it considered against Washington.
“German government should immediately make it clear after this recent scandal that it stands on the side of the parliament’s investigation committee. It should submit all relevant documents to our committee, which it refrained to do so far,” she said.
The whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks, released new documents Wednesday about NSA’s alleged mass surveillance activities, which included a top secret report on the wiretapped telephone conversations between Merkel and her aide in 2011 on the Greek economic crisis.
The site also leaked a list of 69 German government phone numbers that the NSA considered valued targets for interceptions.
On Thursday, Peter Altmaier, a close aide of Merkel and minister responsible for intelligence, summoned the U.S. ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, to the Prime Ministry, to convey Berlin’s protest.
BND-NSA cooperation questioned
Hans-Christian Stroebele, a senior lawmaker of the opposition Green Party, said Thursday that the NSA might have used its years long cooperation with its German counterpart BND for intercepting telephone calls in Germany and other European countries.
"We should learn as soon as possible if the list of these 69 telephone numbers were also included in the list submitted to the BND by NSA for surveillance," Stroebele told reporters at the parliament.
The recent scandal has put further pressure on the German government, which is already in the line of fire for its secret cooperation deal with the NSA, which allowed it to spy on telephone and Internet communications worldwide and share them with the U.S. spy agency.
The cooperation agreement, signed between the two agencies in 2002, was aimed at surveillance of conflict regions, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, from the Bad Aibling station, located in southern Germany.
But German media reports revealed in May that the U.S. spy agency had not only monitored conflict regions but had also spied on European politicians, institutions and companies, like the aerospace giant EADS.
Despite widespread criticism, Merkel defended last month the German cooperation with the NSA, citing growing terrorism threats.
She turned down the opposition’s demand to submit a complete list of keywords, telephone numbers, email accounts and Internet Protocol addresses, which were allegedly monitored by the BND in cooperation with the NSA, to the parliament’s investigation committee.
Instead her coalition government appointed a special investigator to inspect the list, but the move was criticized by the opposition parties, which demanded an independent investigation.
The latest scandal also drew criticism from the lawmakers of Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc CDU/CSU and its coalition partner Social Democratic Party.
Patrick Sensburg, CDU/CSU lawmaker and head of the German parliamentary committee investigating the NSA activities, also demanded an explanation from the U.S.
Sensburg told reporters at the parliament Thursday that the telephones of German government members were likely tapped directly by the NSA, outside the scope of the BND-NSA cooperation.
He said that it did not come as a surprise. "One who looks at the website of the NSA can see that one of the assignments of the NSA is to get intelligence on economic developments important for political decisions," he said.
He also underlined that the NSA act was criminal and should be prosecuted.
Christian Flisek, SPD lawmaker, who also sits on the parliament’s NSA investigation committee, called on the chief prosecutor to launch a new probe into the alleged NSA surveillance, following new revelations by WikiLeaks.
A year ago, Germany’s chief prosecutor opened an investigation into the claims that NSA spied on Merkel’s mobile phone.
American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 showed that a private mobile phone number of Merkel had been on a monitoring list of the NSA.
But Chief Prosecutor-General Harald Range shelved the investigation last month, for lack of what it called legally-sound evidence.
U.S.-German relations were strained in 2013 after the wiretapping reports emerged.
U.S. administration did not confirm the reports, and did not offer any public apology. Meanwhile, Washington turned down Berlin’s demand to sign a “no-spy agreement”.Last Mod: 03 Temmuz 2015, 12:33