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German intelligence agency halts internet monitoring for NSA

According to press reports, the German intelligence service BND ended internet monitoring for the US National Security Agency at the start of the week. Only information from faxes and phone calls is still being sent on.

The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" website reported overnight on Thursday that the German intelligence service BND has stopped internet monitoring for the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Since the start of the week, according to the website, the BND listening station in Bad Aibling is only sending on information from fax messages and telephone calls.

The BND has drastically reduced its collaboration with the NSA, according to the website. According to information from the Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR broadcasters, internet traffic which until the start of this week would have been forwarded to the US, is no longer being recorded.

The report added that, in consultation with the chancellor's office, the BND had asked the US to give precise reasons why it required the monitoring of any person or institution. The request was a reaction to reports of

alleged misuse

of the station for the monitoring of European politicians and government leaders as well as EU institutions. The NSA had apparently replied that a shortage of time prevented the agency from providing justifications for requested internet searches.

Internet search terms accounted for the bulk of the most recent,

4.6 million searches

carried out by the BND. The "Süddeutscher Zeitung" said it was not yet known if the US agency would continue to decline to provide justifications for internet searches. In the past, the NSA has apparently given reasons for proposed telephone and fax monitoring.

The report said the NSA had equipped the listening station in Bad Aibling with sophisticated technical equipment. A number of NSA personnel are believed to work there together with some 120 BND personnel.

The NSA has made no comment on the restriction of co-operation by the BND.

According to a report in the "Rheinische Post" newspaper, the German and US governments are also working to reorganize their intelligence cooperation.

jm/gsw (dpa, Reuters)

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