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Opposition Social Democrats criticize German government for NSA cooperation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and the oppositon are continuing to trade blows over the controversy surrounding Germany’s BND intelligence agency. This follows a report that the agency has been passing on metadata to the US National Security Agency.

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The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) on Thursday struck back after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) blamed the SPD’s parliamentary floor leader, Frank-Walter Steinmeier for the affair.

On Wednesday, a government spokesman told reporters in Berlin that the agreement under which the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) passes on metadata to the NSA was signed while Steinmeier was in charge of security as former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s chief of staff in 2002.

Peer Steinbrück, the SPD candidate challenging Merkel for the chancellery in the September 22 election, has accused the CDU of diversionary tactics.

The latest controversy was stirred up by a report from the online version of the Spiegel newsmagazine, which said the BND had been forwarding large quantities of information, including text and email data to the NSA.

pfd/dr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)