The US National Security Agency has turned Germany into its most important base for surveillance operations in Europe, developing an “intimate relationship” over the past 13 years, Der Spiegel revealed.
The NSA has not only
been spying on German citizens, but the country has also become
home to the agency’s key data collection centers in Europe,
German magazine Der Spiegel revealed on its website Wednesday in an
article based on the analysis of documents leaked by
whistleblower Edward Snowden and information from other
“No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA
surveillance architecture like the one in Germany…In 2007, the
NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in
Germany,” Der Spiegel said.
Snowden’s leaked documents show that the “all-powerful
American intelligence agency” has developed an
“increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the
past 13 years while massively expanding its presence,” the
The media reveals that one of the key NSA bases is located in
Wiesbaden, southwest Germany, named European Technical Center
(ETC), and it has been much developed by the US in the recent
years. As the article states Building 4009 of the “Storage
Station”, publically known as a US military compound, was never
suspected to be a data collecting center.
Snowden’s documents show that following the facility’s
refurbishment in 2011, it has been the NSA’s “primary
communications hub” in Europe streaming huge amounts of
intercepted data to “NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners
in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”
Spiegel also reveals that an “even more powerful and modern
facility” is under construction five kilometers from Clay
Kaserne at a US military complex in the Erbenheim district of the
south-central city of Wiesbaden. Named the “Consolidated
Intelligence Center” it is estimated to have cost the US
government $124 million.
The European Center for Cryptology (ECC) is yet another key US
facility located in the town of Griesheim. It was set up by the
US in 2004 and has now become “NSA’s most important outpost
in Europe,” according to Spiegel. ECC is an “operative
arm” of the NSA’s EU leadership in Stuttgart, says the
article citing Snowden’s documents. ECC relies on intelligence
gathered through Europe and shared by NSA’s British counterpart
“NSA staff in Griesheim use the most modern equipment
available for the analysis of the data streams, using programs
like XKeyscore, which allows for the deep penetration of Internet
traffic,” the article added.
The agency earlier defended its use of the program as lawful
adding that it engages in “extensive, close
consultations” with the German government concerning the
The Spiegel article also ponders upon the NSA’s still-close
relationship with its German partner, Germany’s foreign
intelligence agency the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst).
“…the exchange of data, spying tools and know-how is much
more intense than previously thought,” according to Spiegel.
“…yet German officials would seem to know next to nothing about
the NSA’s activity in their country. For quite some time, it
appears, they didn’t even want to know. It wasn’t until Snowden
went public with his knowledge that the German government became
The leaks about the NSA’s surveillance programs were first
published in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year,
revealing the extent of US spying on its citizens. Further
revelations in February showed that the NSA also spied on world
leaders, including the chancellor of Germany. Earlier this June
the German Federal Prosecutor opened a long-anticipated
investigation into the alleged surveillance of Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s phone by the NSA after months of delays.