EU Outraged over US, UK Surveillance: German Prosecutors May File Charges
July 2, 2013
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Tony Paterson / The Independent & Al Jazeera
Recent revelations about the NSA's broad surveillance of German phone and Internet communications have fueled major concerns in the country. Federal Prosecutors are preparing criminal charges against US and British spies involved. Despite US efforts to downplay the growing espionage scandal, French President Francois Hollande has said reports that the US bugged EU diplomatic missions could threaten crucial free trade talks.
German Prosecutors May File Charges Over US, British Surveillance
Justice Minister: US Using 'Cold War' Methods
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 30, 2013) -- Recent revelations about the NSA's broad surveillance of German phone and Internet communications have fueled major concerns in the country, as Federal Prosecutors say they are preparing criminal charges against US and British spies involved.
Hessian prosecutors were the first to receive complaints about the matter, but that is likely to grow precipitously after German media outlets reported the US surveillance has collected more than half a billion phone calls and emails per month in Germany alone.
Though broad internal surveillance is also an issue in the US, the NSA's policies don't make spying on Germans illegal as such. The US lists Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand as "second party" nations exempt from surveillance, but considers Germany fair game. The program also explicitly targeted European Union diplomats.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the US policy was "beyond comprehension," and said that such "Cold War" methods were unacceptable toward allies. Officials are urging the EU to take direct action to stop the surveillance.
Germany Prepares to Charge UK and US Intelligence over Fresh Bugging Allegations:
Outrage grows in Europe over allegations of extensive hacking and bugging operations
Tony Paterson / The Independent
BERLIN (June 30, 2013) -- Germany's Federal Prosecutor's office said it was preparing to bring charges against British and US intelligence today amid fresh allegations that the services spied far more extensively than thought on German phone and Internet traffic and bugged European Union offices in America.
A report alleging a major and continuous US National Security Agency spying operation in Germany was published by Der Spiegel magazine today, prompting outrage from Berlin MPs still reeling from reports about extensive British surveillance in their country.
The German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenburger, demanded an immediate explanation and said the behaviour of the intelligence services was "reminiscent of the actions against enemies during the Cold War. It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies," she said.
The leak, which Der Spiegel said came from fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden, claimed that the NSA tapped into half a billion German phone calls, emails and SMS messages each month. Reports last week revealed extensive tapping of German phone and Internet traffic by British intelligence under its so-called Tempora programme. The information was said to be shared with the NSA.
A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor said the office was preparing to bring charges against "persons unknown" in relation to the reports.
There was also widespread and mounting anger at official European Union level yesterday following disclosures that the NSA had spied on EU computer networks at its offices in New York and Washington and that it had also bugged the premises. Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, demanded "full clarification" from the US and said that if the disclosures proved true they would have a severe impact on US-EU ties.
Today it also emerged that the UK Government had invited German MPs and justice officials to attend a video conference at British Embassy in Berlin tomorrow during which the issue of spying would be addressed.
Der Spiegel said the NSA's German phone and Internet surveillance operation was the biggest in the EU. On 7 January 2013 it tapped into some 60 million German phone calls in a single day. The magazine said that Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand were exempt from NSA surveillance but Germany was regarded as a country open for "spy attacks."
Bugging Row Threatens EU-US Trade Deal
French President Asks US to Immediately Cease Spying on European Institutions Saying It Could Threaten Key Trade Talks
( July 1, 2013) -- French President Francois Hollande has said reports that the US bugged EU diplomatic missions could threaten crucial free trade talks, despite US efforts to downplay the growing espionage scandal.
Hollande asked the US on Monday to immediately cease spying on European institutions, adding "enough elements have already been gathered for us to ask for explanations" from Washington about the spying allegations.
"There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States," he said.
The French minister of foreign trade, Nicole Bricq, also raised her fears saying "We must absolutely re-establish confidence... it will be difficult to conduct these extremely important negotiations."
Negotiations over creating the world's largest free trade zone between the EU and the US are due to start on July 8 in Washington.
A German government spokesman said if media reports were true, it would be unacceptable Cold War-style behaviour between partners who required trust for a new trans-Atlantic trade area.
Also Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to discuss the allegations with the US President, Barack Obama.
Greece said it was baffled by the reports of covert surveillance and added that it would request "clarification" if there was any truth behind them.
"(Greece) is unable to grasp information that has come to light regarding surveillance of, among others, Greek diplomatic missions from the services of a friend and ally," foreign ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras said in statement.
EU Security Sweep
Meanwhile, the EU has ordered a security sweep of its buildings after the spying allegations.
The Commission called in the US ambassador to the EU, William Kennard, for discussions on the issue with Pierre Vimont, the EU's top diplomat.
Earlier in the day, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry said that he did not know the particulars about allegations that the US bugged European Union offices, and that countries involved in international affairs undertook different activities to protect their national interests.
"Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations. But beyond that I'm not going to comment any further until I have all the facts and find out precisely what the situation is" he added.
The latest revelations from US intelligence whistleblower, Edward Snowden, published in a German magazine Der Spiegel showed that the National Security Agency lists 38 embassies and missions and describes them as "targets".
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month, much more than any other European peer.
The list includes the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as other US allies including Japan.
The document outlines how the NSA spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the United Nations, not only listening to conversations and phone calls, but also gaining access to documents and emails.
Surveillance methods included planting bugs into encrypted fax machines and other communications equipment.
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