The German secret service had known for years about the American ability to intercept communications worldwide. In fact, the Germans made use of that ability to spy repeatedly, reports the newspaper the Bild.
The revelation, which cites sources from the U.S. government, contradicts the statements from German government officials who up to now have denied knowing about the PRISM program first exposed by whistleblower Russ Tice and later by the former CIA contractor, Edward Snowden.
Specifically, the paper indicates that the secret service in Germany, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), requested help from the National Security Agency (NSA) when German citizens were kidnapped in Afghanistan and Yemen, among other places.
With these applications to American colleagues, the BND received metadata related to phone calls and emails from the hostages, which helped locate them.
The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel told Bild through a spokeswoman that the government “does not comment publicly on details” of “cooperation” between the German secret services, and Americans, and requested that the newspaper consulted the appropriate parliamentary committee.
The debate in Germany about the massive eavesdropping program in the U.S. and its scope has broken into the election campaign with the opposition exercising criticism against the government. Her contenders accuse Merkel of not having preserved the privacy of the citizens.
Merkel has called Sunday for tougher data protection rules in Internet inside the European Union (EU) and to force Internet companies to be more open in their policies in this regard after spying scandals involving the American government. That statement seems too little too late, since all communication companies are indeed working with the NSA to spy on everyone around the world. Anything short of stopping that collaboration would be futile when attempting to preserve individual privacy.
“Germany will make it clear that we want Internet companies in Europe to tell us who they are giving information to,” said Merkel during an interview with a local station.
“We have a data protection law. However, if Facebook is registered in Ireland, Irish law is valid, so we need unified European policy,” she added. “Germany will take a strict position,” she said. Clearly for Merkel and her partners of the European Union, American spying has become an opportunity to clamp down on internet freedom by requesting a centralized set of rules in the hands of the technocrats. The same has been attempted in the US with the passage of various cyber security bills whose need was parroted by the media and politicians as a way to ‘avoid cyber attacks’ on sensitive infrastructure.
In this sense, Merkel was weak at best in her last statement on US spying against Germany. She said she hoped that the Americans will abide by German law in the future, which is the closest to recognizing not only that the United States has violated current laws in that country and the rest of Europe, but also that the Americans have the prerogative to respect the law or not.
Later Merkel attempted to justify her impotence by playing the terrorism card. “We are fighting a war against terrorism, but not everything that is technically possible should be implemented”.