The already quite considerable outcry in Germany over the alleged American and British PRISM and Tempora surveillance programs just got refueled.
Der Spiegel reports that “America’s NSA intelligence service allegedly not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions”.
According to Der Spiegel, ”the attacks on EU institutions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA’s spying activities”.
These latest claims are again based on documents leaked by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden and available to The Guardian and Der Spiegel.
The reaction has been sharp:
The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said he was “deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices” made in the Spiegel report.
Der Spiegel quotes Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn as saying: “If these reports are true, it’s disgusting. The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies.”
According to the BBC, the US government has so far made no public comments on the Spiegel story.
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt called for an immediate halt of the “unacceptable” surveillance. Some Green members of the European parliament are also calling for a suspension of trade talks with Washington.
Berlin-based AP reporter Frank Jordans quoted liberal member of parliament Jimmy Schulz in a tweet:
German liberal lawmaker @jimmyschulz says of US eavesdropping claims: “Friends don’t do this kind of thing (to each other).”— Frank Jordans (@wirereporter)
Germany’s justice minister was equally appalled: ‘‘If the media reports are accurate, then this recalls the methods used by enemies during the Cold War,’’ says Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. ‘‘It is beyond comprehension that our friends in the United States see Europeans as enemies.’’
The reaction of German chancellor Angela Merkel to the various revelations has been cautious so far. As a conservative, she is not likely to compromise German-American relations easily but the groundswell of criticism in her country continues to grow and who knows what allegations are yet to emerge from the Snowden leaks.