German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government have been on the defensive this week amid allegations that their intelligence institutions were working with Washington’s National Security Agency to spy on European industries.
The allegations surfaced in an investigative article by the German daily Bild which revealed that the BND intelligence agency had been for years working with the NSA in counter-terrorism monitoring efforts.
But within the past decade, the mandate appears to have changed, Bild alleges, to include major corporations and industries. The New York Times reported on Friday that the Airbus aviation company was launching a criminal espionage lawsuit and pushing the Merkel government for information regarding the Bild report.
The allegations are stunning not least because Merkel herself was the target of NSA spying in 2013.
Media reports at the time revealed information based on leaked documents provided by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden that phone and email communications of Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff were under NSA surveillance.
“Spying among friends – that’s totally unacceptable,” Merkel said at the time.
In January 2014, Snowden revealed that the NSA’s global spying scheme is far wider and intrusive than analysts had previously believed.
“The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity,” the Guardian, in cooperation with the UK’s Channel Four, said last year.
Nevertheless, German media is now relentless pursuing Merkel and members of her government who were responsible for overseeing BND operations.
The focus of German media ire is Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere who was responsible for BND operations as head of the Chancellery between 2005 and 2009.
Opposition parties have charged Merkel’s government of repeatedly lying when asked about NSA activity in Germany.
The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies