Germany calls for inquiry into British embassy spying post allegations


German officials have been offended that the NSA ran its eavesdropping from the US embassy, steps away from the Reichstag building in central Berlin.


John MacDougall

A German parliamentary intelligence committee on Wednesday called for an investigation into claims the UK operated an electronic listening post on top of the British embassy in Berlin, located near German parliament and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

"We have asked the law enforcement agencies to investigate," Thomas Oppermann, who heads the committee, was quoted by the BBC as saying.

"We have also asked the German secret services to look into espionage by allies. From now on we work on the principle 'Trust is good, monitoring is better.'"

The move came after The Independent reported Tuesday that documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested the white tent-like structure on top of the embassy was an “intercept nest.”

From this location, high-tech spying equipment could intercept mobile phone calls, wi-fi data and long-distance communications across the German capital, the Independent said.

The German Foreign Ministry asked British ambassador Simon McDonald to explain the allegations, a less severe diplomatic move than summoning him. Intercepting communications from a diplomatic facility would be in violation of international law. 

Oppermann, meanwhile, said the intelligence committee asked German parliament to consider interviewing Snowden in Russia.

Last week, the former NSA contractor — living under asylum in Russia — told a German politician in Moscow he was ready to help Germany in the wake of spying revelations, based on documents he leaked, which included claims the US had tapped Merkel’s cell phone.

Berlin has ruled out the possibility of bringing Snowden to Germany. 

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