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BND helped NSA to spy on Austria, EU partners: report

Leaked BND paper reportedly reveals German intelligence helped NSA spy on Austrian officials, and European politicians and diplomats.

BND helped NSA to spy on Austria, EU partners: report


The German intelligence service BND spied on its countries' European partner states, including Austria and France, on behalf of the U.S.' National Security Agency, German weekly Bild am Sonntag has reported.

A leaked BND document from 14 August 2013 revealed the foreign intelligence service helped the NSA to monitor e-mail addresses identified by parameters like “gov”, “diplo” and “bundesamt”, which are commonly used by European governments and foreign ministries, according to the weekly.

Austrian ministries were targeted by the NSA through the BND’s satellite tracking station in the southeastern city of Bad Aibling, which surveilled communications using the German word “bundesamt” - meaning federal ministry, according to the report.

The revelations will further increase pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government which is accused by opposition parties of lying to the German parliament over secret cooperation between the BND and NSA.

The scandal first came to light last week after the government informed the Parliamentary Control Panel of the preliminary results of an internal BND investigation.

'Organizational failures'

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told media in a written statement last week that Chancellery had already instructed the BND to conduct a comprehensive investigation to clarify the situation.

“Some technical and organizational failures were identified at the BND,” Seibert said, without elaborating.

Germany’s Federal Prosecutor Harald Range has initiated an inspection process concerning the claims, his office announced on Friday.

“We want to find out whether an initial suspicion exists for filing a criminal act which falls into our jurisdiction,” his spokesman told the German news agency DPA.

The Federal Prosecutor is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes of espionage and treason.

The Suddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday that the NSA had demanded the surveillance of at least 690,000 telephone numbers and 7.8 million IP numbers in 2013 alone.

'Large-scale surveillance'

Senior officials from the French presidency, the Foreign Ministry and from the European Commission were also the targets of surveillance, despite national laws banning such practices, according to the report.

The secret cooperation with the BND reportedly began in 2002 and was aimed at spying on telephone and internet communication in conflict regions.

But an internal BND investigation in 2013 revealed that the NSA was monitoring European politicians and companies, through Bad Aibling, on a huge scale.

The BND only informed German Chancellor Merkel’s office about the results of the investigation in March this year, the daily reported.

German opposition parties called on Chancellor Merkel on Thursday to provide the parliament’s relevant committees with the full list of the telephone numbers, e-mail accounts and IP addresses monitored by the BND in cooperation with the NSA.

Resignation calls

Germany’s main opposition The Left Party called for the resignation of the officials connected with the scandal.

Left Party lawmaker Andre Hahn, member of the Parliamentary Control Panel, said on Thursday that it was still not clear whether Merkel had been informed of the scandal.

He said in a statement posted on the webpage of The Left Party: "But one thing is clear.

"If the NSA had spied against German and European interests for years with the help of the BND, this should have a consequence - both at the top of BND, and within the Chancellery."

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