3 November 2013, 13:20

US-Germany anti-spy deal to include corporate espionage ban

US President Barack Obama greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel

US President Barack Obama greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel

US President Barack Obama greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel

A nascent agreement between Germany and the US not to spy on each other will have a ban on industrial espionage hard-wired into it.

The deal is reported to be in the pipeline and may come into force as early as this year, media speculate. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, the article on corporate espionage was introduced into the accord on Berlin’s initiative, and the Obama administration has already given it the nod.

A delegation of German chancellery and intelligence officials reached the two-way deal during talks at the White House on October 30.

A separate meeting between Hans-Georg Maassen, who heads Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution (its main anti-terrorism agency), German spy chief Gerhard Schindler and a group of US intelligence officials will be held next week allegedly to negotiate a cooperation agreement, Der Spiegel says.

The paper also reported on recent triple talks between NSA Director Keith Alexander, Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein and head of the European Parliament foreign affairs committee, Elmar Brok.

Der Spiegel said that Keith Alexander had acknowledged the bugging of Merkel's mobile phone in the past.

During the meeting with Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein, Alexander was asked if the NSA was still tapping Merkel's phone calls. In reply, he said that was no longer the case, Der Spiegel said.

The scandal has spotlighted rather limited resources at the disposal of counter-intelligence when it comes to wiretapping. Local media have cited Burkhard Even, Germany's director of counter-intelligence, as deploring the lack of means to stop wiretapping when it is carried out by spy units sited at diplomatic missions.

Mr. Evan said it was near to impossible to check out the equipment at foreign embassies and see what it is used for, while Hans-Georg Maassen described Berlin as Europe's spy capital.

Germany, US to strike no-spy deal

Germany and the United States are to strike a two-way deal not to spy on each other in the wake of the diplomatic furore sparked by the Edward Snowden revelations, a German newspaper reported. A delegation of German chancellery and intelligence officials reached the deal during talks at the White House this week, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) reported in its Sunday edition.

The accord is set to be concluded early next year, it said, citing sources close to the German government. Contacted by AFP, a government spokeswoman declined to comment.

Separately, German weekly Der Spiegel also reported that a deal between the two sides was being discussed.

In a report to be published on Sunday, the weekly said Germany and the United States have also agreed to not carry out industrial espionage on each other.

Der Spiegel also added that Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, had acknowledged the tapping of Merkel's mobile phone in the past.

During a meeting with Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein, Alexander had been asked if Washington was listening in on Merkel's calls. In reply, he had said that was no longer the case, Der Spiegel said, citing unnamed participants at the meeting.

Spy claims have been ricocheting across the Atlantic in a row that has frazzled ties between the US and its European allies.

Top German envoys were in Washington on Wednesday to rebuild a "basis of trust" after alleged US tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone in sweeping surveillance operations outraged most of Europe.

Merkel's spokesman said the talks were aimed at clarifying the allegations and working out "a new basis of trust and new regulation for our cooperation in this area".

The chancellor's foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen and intelligence coordinator Guenter Heiss met top US officials including National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and counter-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco.

According to the FAS report, the head of Germany's secret service is now to hold a top-level meeting with US intelligence chiefs on Monday in Washington.

The government spokeswoman did not confirm plans for the meeting.

In some cases, US spying 'has reached too far' - Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry conceded Thursday that some US data surveillance has gone "too far".

In remarks via teleconference to an "open government" summit in London, Kerry defended espionage as necessary in the fight against terrorism but conceded restraint was necessary.

Kerry indicated that the revelations of widespread snooping by the National Security Administration (NSA) through leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden caught everyone by surprise.

"The president and I and others in government have actually learned of some things that had been happening, in many ways, on an automatic pilot because the technology is there," Kerry said.

He said he will work with the president to prevent further inappropriate acts by the National Security Agency.

Kerry insisted that surveillance has produced information that has stopped airplanes "from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated".

He said that President Barack Obama was "determined" to do a thorough review of surveillance "in order that nobody will have the sense of abuse".

"In some cases, I acknowledge to you, as has the president, that some of these actions have reached too far, and we are going to make sure that does not happen in the future," Kerry said.

Kerry disputed news reports that 70 million people were listened to.

"No, they weren't. It didn't happen. There's an enormous amount of exaggeration in this reporting from some reporters out there," he said.

Kerry also emphasized that the United States and others were working together to collect data, an apparent reference to countries with which top US intelligence officials say Washington was exchanging data.

Voice of Russia, AFP, dpa, BBC,TASS

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