German intelligence agency helped NSA spy on EU companies
Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has been aiding the US NSA spy on European companies and politicians since 2008, possibly even earlier, Der Spiegel claims (via Google Translate).
Among the targets were European companies EADS (the manufacturer of Airbus planes) and Eurocopter, and European politicians, including German and French ones.
A partial extent of the problem was uncovered in 2013, when documents leaked by Edward Snowden spurred an internal BDN investigation. It revealed that its employees have fed approximately 2,000 selectors – IP addresses, e-mail addresses or phone numbers – that did not fall under the categories permitted by the anti-terrorism agreement on intelligence cooperation between the US and Germany into its BDN’s global monitoring systems and databases.
But the results of the investigation were not shared outside the agency, and the NSA was effectively just asked politely not to make any more requests that did not comply with the aforementioned agreement. It seems that the BND was worried about being cut off from the intelligence that the US usually sent to the agency if they made a bigger fuss.
In any case, the German Chancellor and the Parliament were not appraised of the situation. But, Snowden’s leaks made the latter set up an inquiry into NSA activities in Germany, and BND practices as well, and it uncovered that the list of NSA selectors directed against Western European and German interests reached 400,000 selectors (not all were actually used).
“Several times a day, the BND had downloaded from a server NSA selectors and they entered into its databases and systems,” Zeit Online reports (via Google Translate). “The results were then sent to the BND headquarters in Pullach for evaluation and from there to some extent on to the NSA.”
The German Chancellor was eventually told in March 2015, and Chancellery Minister Peter Altmaier informed the members of the Parliamentary Control Panel and the NSA Committee on Wednesday. Leaders of the ruling coalition of political parties (SPD and CDU) were also informed.
The members of the Parliament’s NSA Committee of Inquiry are convinced that there are circles in the BND that are “beyond any kind of control” and that the Chancellor’s Office obviously had problems with supervising the BDN.
The results of this revelation are difficult to predict, but it’s seems likely that, at least, Gerhard Schindler, the current heard of the BND, will be asked to resign.