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'Trust' between Germany, US and respective spy agencies

Officials say that despite spy scandals, Germany's intelligence relationship with the US is solid. Reports have emerged that the BND may have helped the US spy on European companies and officials as long ago as 2008.

Berlin's RBB radio reported that collaboration between the federal intelligence service, or BND, and the US National Security Agency went deeper than expected. According to RBB, German agents sorted out selectors - search terms, IP addresses, email addresses and more - for the NSA across Europe, ensnaring 1.3 million people, political institutions and companies in multiple nations.

Government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said she considered relations between the two countries "marked by great trust" and added that she did not believe that consultations with the United States on questions from Bundestag lawmakers "will jolt German-American relations in any way."

On Thursday, media reported that the BND had stopped sharing some surveillance data from a German spy station with the NSA - something that officials from neither government or spy agency would comment on. Allegations that the BND has helped the NSA spy on European officials and firms has put strains on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition with the Social Democrats. An INSA poll released Wednesday found that 62 percent of Germans think the BND row threatens Merkel's credibility, as ultimate responsibility for the agency lies with her office.

The German press agency reported Friday that a deactivated database in Bavaria (pictured) associated with the allegedly intense collaboration between the BND and NSA would not be purged. Germany's government is awaiting a response from US officials as to whether the communications selectors can be given to a Bundestag committee investigating the scandal.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière - formerly defense minister and, at during the alleged collaboration, head of the chancellery, which oversees the BND - has been hit hard by the revelations, with even members of Germany's ruling coalition calling on him to step down once and for all. Revelations by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden about wide-ranging NSA espionage in Germany caused public outrage when they first surfaced in 2013, with Merkel herself expressing apparent alarm that the agency might have spied on her phone calls.

Earlier this week, Austrian officials lodged a legal complaint over Germany's alleged role in US spying.

mkg/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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