Saturday, August 23, 2014

Turkey/Germany: Berlin Reportedly Eavesdropped on Ankara for Four Decades

According to Reuters, Germany's foreign intelligence agency has been spying on Turkey for nearly four decades, Focus  said on Saturday (August 23) in a report which could raise tensions further between the two NATO allies.
Ankara summoned Germany's ambassador in Ankara on Monday (August 18) after media reports that Berlin had identified Ankara as a top target of surveillance in a government document from 2009 and had been spying on Turkey for years.
The details about the duration of possible surveillance and on the decision-making surrounding it go further than first reports earlier this week.
Focus magazine said the BND intelligence agency had been spying on Turkey since 1976, and that the German government under the then Social Democrat Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had expressly approved the counter-measure.
COMMENT: FOCUS also cited government sources as saying the BND's current mandate to monitor Turkish political and state institutions had been agreed by a government working group. That included representatives of the Chancellor's office and the defense, foreign affairs and economy ministries.
The report is a further embarrassment for Angela Merkel's government which faces accusations of hypocrisy because of its outrage over allegations of widespread surveillance by the US on Germans, including the tapping of Chancellor Merkel's mobile. 
Conservative lawmaker Hans-Peter Uhl told FOCUS there were "good reasons" for the BND to eavesdrop on Turkey. He cited human trafficking, drugs and terrorism as issues of concern and his comments chime with the views of many German politicians.
Germany is Turkey's largest trading partner in the European Union and home to at least three million Turks. Yet, bilateral relations between the two countries has not always been smooth. Merkel's conservatives are skeptical about Turkish EU membership.
In response to media reports about US spying in Germany, Merkel has said spying among friends is "not at all acceptable."
DER SPIEGEL reported that the BND has also targeted Albania, another member of NATO, for surveillance.