A German newspaper has reported that the Merkel administration exaggerated the possibility of an anti-spy deal with the US in 2013. The government has said it spoke according to what it believed to be true at the time.
Germany's federal government told the public in 2013 about an upcoming "no spy" deal with the United States despite having no clear promise from the Americans that they were willing to enter into such an agreement, according to the Wednesday edition of the German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung."
The newspaper report said that Chancellor Angela Merkel and then vice-chancellor Guido Westerwelle knew since August 7 2013 that the Obama administration had agreed only to review such a possibility, yet on August 12 former Chief of the Chancellery Ronald Pofalla announced that the US had offered to create an anti-espionage deal with Germany.
According to government documents obtained by the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" in collaboration with German broadcasters NDR and WDR, John Kerry appeared "willing, without making a concrete promise" to discuss the possibility with Westerwelle.
Government acted "to the best of [its] knowledge"
Following revelations made public by Edward Snowden in June 2013 that the NSA had spied in Germany and on German citizens, an outcry prompted a German delegation to travel to Washington on August 5 2013 to try and negotiate an agreement between the NSA and Germany's intelligence agency, the BND.
Despite the lack of solid American consent, on August 14, 2013 another announcement was made, this time by Chancellor Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert that "there will be a no-spy deal between the BND and the NSA."
As no agreement ever materialized, and allegations began to arise last month that , Seibert was forced to admit two weeks ago that the government had spoken "to the best of [its] knowledge" in the summer of 2013.
The Social Democrats (SPD), rivals and coalition members to Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), along with the opposition parties have accused the CDU of exaggerating the likelihood of the deal to the public ahead of the fall 2013 general election.
es/jil (AFP, Reuters)