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Intelligence

Reports: BND helped NSA spy on France, EU Commission

Several German media outlets allege that Germany's secret service, the BND, helped the NSA spy on France and EU institutions. It comes after claims that Germany tolerated NSA spying on European firms.

Germany's foreign intelligence service, BND, spied on top French officials as well as members of the European Commission on behalf of US spy agency NSA, according to reports in German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and public broadcasters WDR and NDR.

In an article published on Thursday's front page, Süddeutsche claimed the BND's wiretapping center in Bad Aibling, south of Munich, was "abused" to help the NSA spy on "high-ranking French officials in the French Foreign Ministry, the Elysée Palace and the EU Commission."

Citing an internal investigation, the paper goes on to say that European companies were also affected, but to a lesser extent. The NSA was particularly interested in intelligence on illegal defense deals, the paper says. German politicians and companies were not on the list Süddeutsche claimed to have seen.

The paper reported that current German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere - then head of the Chancellery, which oversees the country's intelligence agencies - was told in 2008 that the US was trying to expand its monitoring activities beyond what was deemed to be of "mutual interest." De Maziere's successor, Ronald Pofalla, was given more detail in 2010, the paper claimed.

On Wednesday, de Maizere denied accusations by the opposition Left party that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had been "lying" for years about the NSA selectively accessing data gathered by the BND despite privacy laws.

The accusations followed claims by German media outlets that the Chancellery turned a blind eye to NSA spying on German and European firms to make sure it received US counterterrorism information.

De Maiziere said on Wednesday the accusations were "untrue" and could be disproved by documents, which needed to remain secret.

He said he was willing, however, to provide explanations confidentially to the Bundestag's intelligence committee and the special parliamentary committee set up to shed light on NSA surveillance after it was first disclosed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

ng/sms (dpa, AFP)

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