German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended Berlin’s cooperation with U.S. spy agencies, and insisted that the country should continue working with international intelligence organizations to deal with global terrorist threats. Merkel’s remark came after recent reports said that Germany's foreign intelligence service BND helped the U.S. spy on European Union leaders and companies.
Local media reported last week that the BND had provided more than 40,000 instances of signals intelligence to the NSA, including conversations procured through phone taps. While Merkel has faced growing pressure over the allegations, she said on Monday that the BND was “under control,” and that the government was ready to testify before a parliamentary inquiry over the activities of the NSA, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
“That said, the BND must continue to cooperate internationally, and will do so,” AFP quoted Merkel as saying. “To carry out its responsibilities combating international terrorist threats requires collaboration with other agencies, starting with the NSA.”
German media also reported that the Chancellery, the office of Merkel and the overseer of BND, had turned a blind eye to the NSA spying to ensure that Berlin maintained access to U.S. counterterrorism intel. The reports also said that Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was informed in 2008 that the NSA was planning to expand its reach beyond the two countries’ “mutual interest.”
According to local reports, NSA asked the BND to spy not only on terror suspects, but also on France-based aviation giant Airbus, the French presidency and the EU Commission.
Meanwhile, Airbus said it would “file a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of industrial espionage,” AFP reported.