On Friday, the Justice Ministry of Belgium announced that the government has started to investigate whether Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) spied on Belgian government officials and companies with the cooperation of US National Security Agency (NSA).
A supervisor to Belgian intelligence service Staatsveiligheid, Stefaan Van Hecke, demanded Germany hand over the list of its Belgian targets.
Along with Van Hecke, parliamentarian of the Austrian Green Party Peter Pilz and Judith Sargentini claimed that the BND together with NSA collected a huge amount of data from Internet communications and cables from Belgium and the Netherlands.
Telecoms Minister Alexander de Croo said that “if it should emerge that the reports of wide-scale eavesdropping by the German secret services are correct, Germany will have to provide an explanation."
Interior Minister of the Netherlands Ronald Plasterk said that “the Dutch government, in its own right, will examine the allegation that the BND tapped the Dutch data cable companies at request of the NSA.”
The BND came under fire after a report in Bild revealed officials spied on France and the European Union on behalf of the NSA from its monitoring station at Bad Aibling in southern Bavaria.
A number of European firms, including Airbus and Eurocopter, were also spied on at the request of Washington’s National Security Agency (NSA) to check if they were abiding by trade embargoes.
All cooperation between the two agencies was carried out within the framework of an intelligence sharing agreement which was signed in 2002.
Despite the cooperation agreement between the two intelligence agencies, even Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone conversations were monitored by the NSA in a joint operation with the British spy service GCHQ.
Up to 800,000 German citizens including politicians were among the list of names provided to the BND by the NSA, another report in Die Zeit stated.
German parliament confirms data stolen from parliament’s system
On Friday a German Parliamentary spokeswoman confirmed that when unknown hackers attacked computer systems in the German Bundestag lower house of parliament two weeks ago, they managed to steal data in the attack.
German Parliamentary spokeswoman has said that investigators detected “several data leaks” after the attacks although they did not find from where and what kind of information was stolen.
"The concerned agencies have been informed and countermeasures have been taken," she said.
The latest attack came after WikiLeaks revealed nearly 1000 pages of minutes from the German Parliament enquiry into the NSA earlier in May.
The minutes WikiLeaks obtained from an anonymous source include details of hearings up to February 2015 which include witness testimonies, statements from high-ranking officials of BND and other government officials, Deutsche Telekom and the NSA.
The inquiry sessions took place with government officials present to halt the session at any time if witnesses reveal any classified information which isn’t permitted to be discussed in an open session.
Another security measure in place against digital leaks has been the distribution of classified information to MPs on paper. Only information that is categorised with the lowest clearance level is made available in digital form.