BND, which is Germany’s foreign intelligence service has for a long time spied on journalist from the New York Times, BBC, Reuters and other media outlets.
In response to the alleged spying, the media rights group Reporters Without Borders said that the surveillance was a monstrous attack on press freedom, Der Spiegel reported that the group also voiced its fears that the eavesdropping was still ongoing and as a result, it said that it was planning on taking legal action.
Der Spiegel has worked with the US fugitive Edward Snowden and reported on the US and German espionage scandals as it cited documents that it had previously seen.
It’s not yet known who exactly was spied on by the BND. However, the news concerning the surveillance is a culmination of a three-year inquiry that saw German Chancellor Angela Merkel giving evidence.
Reports from Der Spiegel indicate that the BND had listed at least 50 telephone and fax numbers and also email addressed of journalists or newsrooms on the lists of selector keywords that were used for surveillance since back in 1999. Dozen numbers were from the BBC at its London headquarters and in Afghanistan and also the BBC World Service.
New York Times was also targeted by the BND as one of the number in Afghanistan was also on the list. Mobile and satellite phone numbers of news agency Reuters in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan were also among the list.
It’s no surprise that the BND declined to comment as pointed out by Der Spiegel in an excerpt of an article that was to be published in its weekly edition. One of the BBC spokeswoman expressed the media outlets disappointment after hearing the claims. She emphasized that BBC’s mission is to bring accurate news and information to the people around the world, adding that journalist should be in a position to operate freely and safely.
After an uproar emerged over reports of the United States bugging her cellphone, the German Chancellor admitted that she did not know how closely Germany’s spies cooperated with their US counterparts until the year 2015.
Merkel, told a parliamentary committee that she assumed BND foreign intelligence agency would not help the US National Security Agency to spy on European organizations and politicians.
Relations between German and the U.S. were strained by a revelation that the NSA had bugged Merkel’s cellphone. The opposition makers on the other hand wanted to know whether Merkel knew that BND was helping the NSA spy on European allies. In response, Merkel emphasized that she thought BND would not do such a thing.
The German parliament decided to set up investigation into the matter back in 2014. The country considers surveillance to be a very crucial issue, considering what happened in the Nazi era when Gestapo kept a close watch on the masses.
The highest court in Germany rejected a bid by the opposition seeking to make the government disclose to the investigating committee on the surveillance targets it worked on with the NSA. A law to tighten oversight of the BND was approved by German lawmakers back in October.