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Opposition hits out at progress in Germany-US 'no-spy agreement'

Talks over a potential 'no-spy agreement' with the US appear to be stalling. Germany's opposition parliamentarians have hit out at the government's handling of the affair, calling it the "scandal after the scandal."

The Left party's parliamentary home affairs expert, Jan Korte, told a special session of the Bundestag on Wednesday convened to discuss the

fledgling 'no-spy agreement' negotiations

that the German government's handling of the

NSA affair

has now become the "main problem."

Instead of just expressing their dissatisfaction with the negotiations over the

proposed agreement

with the US, Germany must also pull out of the planned European Union-US trade agreement, Korte said. "This is a language the Americans understand," he added.

Greens data protection expert Konstantin von Notz accused the government of months of "transfiguration and cover-up" during the affair. "This is the scandal after the scandal," said von Notz, adding that the no-spy agreement was an "inadequate attempt" to resolve the US National Security Agency's violation of international law.

'No-spy agreement' in jeopardy

Talks between Berlin and Washington over a deal to not spy on each other was announced last August, after it was revealed the US tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. A New York Times report in December had hinted that Germany would likely be disappointed in its efforts to broker a deal. The paper reported Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice had already warned the government in Berlin that Washington did not want to set an international precedent by making an explicit arrangement with Germany.

On Tuesday, Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted a German source close to the talks as saying: "We're getting nothing."

Interior Ministry Parliamentary State Secretary Günter Krings, of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats party (CDU), conceded that information the US has supplied on NSA spying was "highly unsatisfactory," but said that to achieve more transparency the no-spy agreement negotiations had to continue.

"That the standard of law applies without exception to our partners and their security agencies on German soil is not negotiable for us," said Krings.

NSA infiltrating offline computers

Adding to the controversy over the spying affair was the revelation Wednesday that the NSA has developed the ability to spy on computers that are not connected to the internet. According to the New York Times, the NSA has implanted software in 100,000 computers around the world allowing the agency to conduct surveillance and creates a 'digital highway' for launching cyber-attacks

The technology uses radio waves that can be transmitted from small circuit boards and USB cards covertly installed on computers.

In addition to using the technology against Chinese Army, Russian military networks, and Mexican drug cartels, the NSA has infiltrated trade institutions within the EU.

US President Barack Obama is set to announce changes to the NSA activities on Friday after reviewing the

findings from a panel

set up to review the necessity of the agency's far-reaching espionage programs.

dr/ph (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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