Representatives of the German secret services fail to reach an agreement with US colleagues
High-ranking German intelligence officials have failed to agree restrictions on surveillance with their NSA and CIA counterparts.
A delegation from Germany travelled to the US following the allegations that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was tapped by the NSA for over a decade, and the agency was routinely capturing information about millions of items of electronic communication in the allied nation and fellow NATO member.
According to Der Spiegel, the only thing German officials managed to negotiate with the director of the NSA Keith Alexander was a vague cooperation agreement, which will give Germany a heads-up on any information still held by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
No common ground
The delegation that visited the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland and CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia included Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and Gerhard Schindler, director of the Bundesnachrichtendienst – Germany’s foreign intelligence agency similar to the CIA.
Der Spiegel reports that a lengthy meeting in Fort Meade didn’t achieve much – Alexander simply said he couldn’t disclose sensitive information related to the NSA programmes. He also wouldn’t confirm or deny whether an extension to the US Embassy in Berlin was being built to house more surveillance equipment.
The two sides negotiated a short cooperation agreement, which outlines the areas in which the security agencies will work together, expected to be ready for signing by the end of the year. However, despite German calls for more transparency, there will be no explicit agreement on surveillance.
The NSA is in a difficult position, since any information on its currently running surveillance operations would serve as an admission that such operations were conducted in the past. The US also wants to avoid showing favouritism – after all, politicians in France, Spain and dozens of other countries were also allegedly spied on.
There has been no proof of the NSA activity in Germany, other than the documents provided by Snowden. This has motivated the opposition parties in the Bundestag to call for a thorough investigation of the spying claims. “Either the German government doesn’t grasp the problem at all, or it considers this system of spying fundamentally proper and thus isn’t taking action,” Jan Korte from the Left Party told the German newspaper.
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden has recently started working in tech support for a major Russian website.
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