Though German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised loud objections when it was revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her private communications, a new inquiry by the German parliament revealed last week that the spy agency under Merkel’s command conducted secret operations against its EU neighbors on behalf of the US government.
Germany’s national intelligence agency, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), helped the NSA carry out “political espionage” on “top officials at the French Foreign Ministry, the Elysee Palace, and European Commission,” according to reports. The BND used its largest eavesdropping facility in Bavaria to monitor email and telephone communications at those institutions, as well as European defense and aerospace firms, under a 2002 pact with the NSA.
Those revelations prompted allegations by critics and national media of a cover-up that implicated all levels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration. Merkel has been outspoken against the NSA’s widespread and invasive surveillance operations after documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed that the agency had monitored the Chancellor’s phone, among other transgressions.
“You don’t spy on your friends,” Merkel said at the time.
The new revelations have led to severe criticism of German officials, particularly Thomas de Maizière, German Interior Minister and former chief of staff for Merkel’s office, which gave him authority over the BND. The Guardian writes: