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Saturday, December 10, 2016

AFP

Berlin — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday insisted her country needed to work with American intelligence agencies, in the wake of claims Berlin helped the US spy on EU leaders and companies.

Merkel’s government has faced growing pressure over the allegations, and while analysts expect the popular leader to weather the scandal, her interior minister has drawn media and opposition fire over the “BND affair”, referring to Germany’s foreign intelligence service.

She insisted on Monday that the BND was “under control” and repeated a pledge to testify before a parliamentary inquiry over the activities of the American National Security Agency, were she called to do so.

“That said, the BND must continue to cooperate internationally, and will do so,” Merkel said at a joint news conference with Czech premier Bohuslav Sobotka.

Media say US intelligence asked Germany’s spy agency to eavesdrop on the online, phone, and other communications not just of terror suspects but also of France-based aviation giant Airbus, the French presidency, and EU Commission

“To carry out its responsibilities combating international terrorist threats requires collaboration with other agencies, starting with the NSA,” she said.

Merkel had previously promised to “clarify” the relationship between the two intelligence agencies.

Her beleaguered Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere — Merkel’s former chief-of-staff responsible for overseeing intelligence services — said last week he would also answer any questions posed by the parliamentary committee probing the row.

German media have reported that US intelligence asked the BND to eavesdrop on the online, phone, and other communications not just of terror suspects but also of France-based aviation giant Airbus, the French presidency, and EU Commission.

A core question has been whether de Maiziere’s ministry misled parliament when it said, as recently as April 14, it had no knowledge of alleged US economic spying in Europe, and of Germany’s alleged involvement.

Airbus has said it would “file a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of industrial espionage.”

Photo: Sven Festersen via Flickr

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