British Embassy in Berlin Spying over German Government?

Written by | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Following the allegations by the UK’s Independent newspaper that the British embassy in Berlin may house a “top-secret listening post”, its ambassador in the German capital city has been called in to country’s foreign ministry to provide explanation on these reports. The Independent newspaper cites leaked US National Security Agency (NSA) documents suggesting the UK could be using hi-tech equipment housed on the embassy roof, whereby any such activity would be – according to the German government – against international law.
This emerging UK-German row follows the US spying allegations that dominated talks at the two-day European Union Summit in Brussels in late October. EU leaders warned on Friday, 25 October, that reports of widespread eavesdropping on world leaders by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) have raised “deep concerns” among Europeans and could have serious consequences for the cooperation needed for effective intelligence gathering. In response to the latest revelations, a spokesman for David Cameron said the British prime minister had not spoken to Chancellor Angela Merkel about the spying allegations and there were no plans for a conversation, although their relationship was “excellent”. While refusing to comment on security issues, he said that Britain’s intelligence services operated under a “strong and clear legal framework”.
The Independent report published recently was based on NSA documents leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden who has in meanwhile been granted asylum in Russia.  The UK newspaper claims that the NSA documents, in conjunction with aerial photographs and information about past spying activities in Germany, point to the fact that Britain is operating a covert listening station close to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offices. Aerial photographs of the UK Embassy in Berlin show a white, tent-like structure, which the newspaper says has been in place since the embassy was opened in 2000. This equipment would apparently be capable of intercepting mobile phone calls, wi-fi data and long-distance communications across Berlin. This current row has led to a serious diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

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