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Germany

"We Have to Shed Light On the Issue"

Even as Germany's federal intelligence agency denies reports its spies in Baghdad helped the US in selecting bombing targets there, Jürgen Trittin of the opposition Green party told DW-WORLD the fog has to be cleared.

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How much of a role did Germany's federal intelligence agency play in Iraq?

DW-WORLD: Mr Trittin do you think it was and is right that the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) works in Iraq ?

Jürgen Trittin, Vogelgrippe

Jürgen Trittin, former environment minister and prominent Green Party member

Jürgen Trittin: It is right that in a situation that leads to such a war, the BND doesn't let the German government -- it doesn't matter which one -- rely alone on information supplied by only one combatant or the other. That's why it was also right that members of the secret intelligence agency remained there. As we know, they were housed in the French embassy -- the embassy of a country that displayed a stance similar to Germany's on the Iraq war.

What do you have to say about the alleged fact that BND spies didn't just work in Iraq, but also supplied information to US troops that helped them to select their bombing targets?

So far there's only one source for that claim and that's a member of the American military intelligence community. The BND has issued a statement saying that's not the case. It seems like a parliamentary enquiry will have to clear up this contradiction. We are all interested in shedding light on this matter because we can't accept that, if it is proved, authorities or even individual members -- it doesn't matter with whose knowledge -- thwarted the political stance of the Federal Republic of Germany on the Iraq war by turning into one of the war parties themselves. I'm not going to volunteer to weigh the credibility of the different intelligence services against each other. We have had our experiences with intelligence agencies of the US in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Can you imagine that your own Green Party, also the party of the former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, wasn't informed about such procedures?

The then-foreign minister (Fischer) had clearly explained that he was aware that BND spies stayed in Iraq. That's right and gets the wholehearted support of the Greens. Fischer also made it clear that he wasn't aware of activities that the spies had allowed themselves to be dragged into the war. So, the former foreign minister is also naturally very much in favor of leaving no stone unturned in clearing up the issue.

If it turns out that the BND did work together with the US in Iraq , would that be seen as a breaking of the "Green" promise to keep Germany out of the Iraq war?

Bombennacht in Bagdad

Germany refused to be part of the US-led invasion of Iraq

If that is the case, the BND would have acted disloyally, not towards a party, but towards the German government which has represented a clear-cut position, nationally as well as internationally, that we consider the war, for one, to be wrong and secondly, that we don't want to be part of it. But, as I said, these are speculations and we first want to have facts on the table.

There are allegations that the BND does its own thing because even the parliamentary control commission isn't informed about all its activities. What do you say to that?

This too has to be examined within the framework of the parliamentary investigation. What is also true -- and also been pointed out by the head of the parliamentary control commission in the past weeks -- is that the rights of the board have to be strengthened when it comes to getting access to files and even publishing improper conduct. That's apparent even today.

The opposition liberal Free Democrats and the Left Party are demanding the setting up an investigation committee in parliament. How do the Greens see the move?

The party's parliamentary leadership has already recommended such an investigation because we don't see any other way to clear up the matter.

The interview was conducted by Martin Schrader (sp)

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