Germany’s federal intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) reportedly spied on the FBI, U.S. arms companies and the embassies and interior departments of its allied countries, according to German news reports.
The latest revelations about the BND’s aggressive spying could prove awkward for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who berated the U.S. over it’s intrusive surveillance programs.
German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the agency engaged in a widespread surveillance operation monitoring the phone calls and emails of the U.S. Department of the Interior and its equivalent agencies in Poland, Austria, Denmark and Croatia.
In addition, diplomatic offices of the U.S., France, Great Britain, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, the United Nations, and the Vatican were monitored, according to Der Spiegel.
The U.S. State Department’s hotline for travel warnings and NGOs such as Care International, Oxfam, and the International Committee of the Red Cross were also targeted.
German public radio station rbb-Inforadio reported that the BND also spied on the FBI and U.S. arms companies, according to The Associated Press.
The radio station did not identify the source for its report on BND spying. It said the agency also targeted the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the World Health Organization, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and one of their own diplomats who headed an EU observer mission to Georgia from 2008 to 2011.
Now the BND’s spy network is being investigated by lawmakers who are concerned the agency may have overstepped its legal boundaries, AP reported.
The spy agency and the chancellery, which oversees the BND’s work, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
On Monday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that “political reconnaissance of partner countries isn’t part of the BND’s remit.”
The latest revelations about the BND’s spying follows reports in May that the agency was aware of and cooperated wit the National Security Administration’s surveillance program based out of Germany.
If true, the scope of Germany’s spying program seems to be more closely aligned with U.S. intelligence programs than previously stated.
In 2013, after it was revealed that the U.S. tapped Ms. Merkel’s cell phone, she responded, “Spying among friends? That’s just not done.”
U.S.-German intelligence relations deteriorated further in April 2014 after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. spying on Germany was more aggressive than at first believed.