US National Security Agency

Germany to probe ties with US spying programme

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 3:03am

German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel's government yesterday announced a probe into ties between its secret services and US agencies whose sweeping online surveillance was revealed by fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

It reacted to a report by news weekly Der Spiegel which said documents provided by Snowden showed that German services closely co-operated with the US National Security Agency (NSA) and used its internet spy software XKeyscore.

Germany's domestic intelligence service BfV said it was only testing the internet tool, which Der Spiegel said can store several days' worth of internet traffic data and content as well as key words from online search engines and the Google Maps service.

The US documents reportedly also praised the "eagerness" of foreign intelligence service BND's president, Gerhard Schindler, in co-operating more closely with the NSA and said the German government had modified its interpretation of privacy laws to allow more flexibility in data sharing.

With elections set for September 22, the claims made by Snowden have put pressure on Merkel, who has said she only learnt about the US Prism programme through media reports.

Merkel's spokesman Georg Streiter announced a "comprehensive review" into the claims, with results to be presented between tomorrow and Friday to the parliament's secret services oversight committee, whose meetings are closed.