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Belgium demands Germany explain BND spying

The Belgian government has begun investigating whether any companies or organizations in Belgium were victims of German and American spying. A coalition of lawmakers has accused the BND of culling data from neighbors.

Authorities in Brussels have opened an investigation into whether there were any Belgian targets of the espionage

allegedly carried out by the German intelligence agency BND,

working in tandem with the NSA. Belgium's justice ministry announced on Friday that the government was reacting to a report that both agencies had intercepted electronic documents from companies and organizations within the kingdom's borders.

Lawmaker Stefaan Van Hecke, who sits on the committee to oversee Belgium's own intelligence service, called on Germany to provide an explanation for the allegations, saying Berlin must hand over a list of "…what they did, what the criteria were, and what their goals were."

Van Hecke was joined by the Austrian Green Party parliamentarian Peter Pilz and Judith Sargentini, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, in publishing a list of cables monitored by the BND in Frankfurt. They suggest that myriad data from Belgium and the Netherlands were collected by the German and American spy agencies.

Van Hecke's call was echoed by Telecoms Minister Alexander de Croo on Friday: "If it should emerge that the reports of wide-scale eavesdropping by the German secret services are correct, Germany will have to provide an explanation," he told reporters.

Germany's BND has been accused of helping the NSA spy on politicians and businesses in Europe, including the French government, the European Commission, and Airbus Group.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to testify before two different German parliamentary inquests about the claims, while other European governments, such as Austria, have begun their own probes.

es/jil (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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