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Security breach

July 18, 2011

Germany's spy chief may have played down the sensitivity of the information contained in stolen blueprints of his agency's new headquarters in Berlin. Parties across the partisan divide are calling for an explanation.

Person looking through key hole.
The blueprints may have included sensitive informationImage: Fotolia/Evgeniya Ponomareva

Stolen blueprints of the new headquarters for Germany's foreign intelligence service included more sensitive security information than previously thought, new media reports say.

The reports in news magazines Focus and Der Spiegel contradict previous statements by the president of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Ernst Uhrlau.

Uhrlau had previously stated that only plans for the building's parking garage, cafeteria, and energy supply were affected by the leak. But the new revelations allege that the stolen documents contain classified plans for the headquarters' main building, which includes laboratories and offices.

"Uhrlau now has a real problem," said Wolfgang Bosbach, a member of the conservative Christian Democrats and head of the German parliament's internal affairs committee.

BND President Ernst Uhrlau
Uhrlau has been criticized for his handling of the situationImage: picture alliance/dpa

"In any case, I'm not sure that the federal government still has the kind of trust in the intelligence chief that it needs to have," he added.

A firm working on the new headquarters made several hundred copies of the blueprints for construction site managers and subcontractors. Some of these were reported stolen last week.

Bi-partisan criticism

The secretary of the Social Democrats' parliamentary group, Thomas Oppermann, demanded that the incident be completely cleared up. He said that the German government, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is responsible for making sure that such plans do not fall into foreign hands.

Stefan Müller, Oppermann's counterpart in the conservative Christian Social Union, called on Uhrlau to correct his initial statement. "There needs to be a swift clarification," Müller said.

Around 4,000 employees are set to move into the 260,000-square-meter headquarters in Berlin, which the BND has called "the most modern intelligence service headquarters" in Europe.

Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, dapd)
Editor: Ben Knight