WikiLeaks releases new batch of leaked documents on US-German intel cooperation
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has released nearly 2,500 sensitive documents over the cooperation between the German and the US spy agencies as well as data on Berlin’s inquiry into the matter.
“Today, 1 December 2016, WikiLeaks releases 90 GB of information relating to the German parliamentary inquiry into the surveillance activities of Germany's foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and its cooperation with the US National Security Agency (NSA),” as statement on the website reads.
Among the 2,420 documents leaked by WikiLeaks are print-screens of the papers from the BND itself, the German military intelligence (MAD), the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV) and other key ministries.
The revelations come amid an ongoing parliamentary inquiry in Germany into BND’s support of NSA global spying program. According to one particular document (Page 15) the German intelligence even mulled that one of its employees was to learn writing of the US spy software XKeyscore, which was used by the NSA for mass surveillance.
“[The issue of] a positive cooperation and secondly the dispatching of a BND employee for the programming and the handling of the XKeyScore for a period of two years have been addressed,” it reads.
“What’s new is that German intelligence not only used the NSA spy tools, but has also been involved in its programming for years,” said Alexander Sander, from the Digital Community, which advocates for the people’s privacy rights in the Internet, in response to the leak, according to Suedkurier. Among other data leaked by the whistleblowing website, there is one that hints at the cooperation between the BND and a European subsidiary of the US cyber giant “Computer Sciences Corporation" (CSC).
The issue is discussed in a letter (Page 20) from the German intelligence to the Chancellor’s Bureau (Kanzleramt) dated November 2013, which was a response to a parliamentary question by Green MP Hans-Christian Ströbele.
While in the part called the “public answer” the BND merely admits the cooperation, more details are provided in the “for internal use” section. According to it, the German intelligence signed contracts with the CSC subsidiary back in 2002 with the value of €17.5 million and did not cut the ties.
Similar sections “for public answer” and “for internal use” can be found in numerous documents leaked by the WikiLeaks on December 1.
The NSA and BND ties came to light back in 2013 following the revelations by a former NSA employee, Edward Snowden. The leaked documents pointed to the fact that the US intelligence widely spied on Americans as well as foreign leaders and officials.
They have also shown that the BND acted on behalf of the NSA while spying at home and abroad, spurring outrage among the German public and many local officials. With the investigation into the matter still ongoing, the German parliament passed a bill in October, aimed at reforming the BND.
The legislation has put additional control measures on the work of its intelligence, yet also gave it wider powers with regard to the internal data monitoring and also justified spying on EU facilities if German security was in danger. The bill has also envisioned no complete wrap-up of the cooperation with the NSA.
A setback for the critics of the cooperation came just last month. Back then Germany's highest court rejected the opposition parties’ bid to make the government reveal to a parliamentary commission investigating the activities of the NSA in Germany, the actual spy targets they had jointly worked on.