German spy agency scrambles to find its own secret documents | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 12.07.2011
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Germany

German spy agency scrambles to find its own secret documents

The security of Germany's new multi-million-euro spying agency headquarters might be compromised; blueprints for the building are missing, allegedly stolen. The government says it's looking for the plans, and answers.

A pair of binoculars peek out from an otherwise closed set of blinds at a window

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'whoops'

The German foreign intelligence agency (BND) has energetically begun seeking a set of highly classified documents, whose contents could prove a threat to national security. The threatening documents are a set of blueprints for a new high-tech Berlin building, and the original owner of the sought-after plans is…the German foreign intelligence agency.

The missing blueprints map out the spying agency's all-new, 1.6 billion euro ($2.24 billion) headquarters, currently under construction in Berlin.

Germany's Focus magazine reported on Sunday, quoting an unnamed intelligence official, that the plans for what is currently a building site in the capital city had been stolen. The German government responded on Monday, saying it had been aware of the missing documents since at least Friday.

"It's a serious issue and the federal government is interested in clarifying this question as quickly as possible," Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

A sign in front of the construction site for the new headquarters of the BND

The building may have to be modified if there was a breach

Seibert said the government had set up a commission to investigate the disappearance on Friday, stressing that the missing plans for the site had been kept under tight security. Seibert would not discuss how serious the government considered the potential breach, or elaborate on any consequences or changes to the building, save for saying that there would be "ramifications" if it turned out that security had been compromised.

Who watches the watchers?

On Tuesday, the head of the BND, Ernst Uhrlau, said that the documents did not contain information which would require an redesign of the building or which would entail extra expence.

According to Focus, an internal source said that the disappearance could have considerable consequences, including the need to redesign parts of the building. According to the unnamed informer, the plans had been classified for official use only, and there might be pressure from friendly intelligence agencies to err on the side of caution and make changes to the building, just in case.

The report said the blueprints showed details of the exact function of each room in the new complex, as well as listing structural details like the thickness of individual walls, and the locations of toilets, emergency exits, and security entrances.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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