NSA Affair: Germans Conduct Helicopter Flyover of US Consulate

Under orders from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, a federal police helicopter conducted a flyover of the US Consulate in Frankfurt, the government in Berlin has confirmed. Officials were apparently searching for surveillance equipment.

The German government on Monday confirmed that a previously reported operation targeting potential American eavesdropping facilities located on German soil took place at the end of August. Both a spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Interior Ministry admitted on Monday that a Federal Police helicopter had conducted a low-altitude flyover of the United States Consulate in Frankfurt in order to take high-resolution photographs. The apparent aim of the mission was to identify suspected listening posts on the roof of the consulate.

According to the newsmagazine Focus, the Eurocopter circled over the US representation at an altitude of just 60 meters (200 feet). The magazine quoted an unnamed government official stating that Germany wanted to send a message to the Americans that it would not tolerate eavesdropping technologies on German soil. “The message to the American friends was meant to be: Stop. Germany strikes back!” The flyover was first reported last week by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

American Security Surprised by Action

But it doesn’t appear there was anything routine about the Eurocopter mission — if there had been, police would have almost surely notified the Americans beforehand. Instead, security personnel at the consulate appear to have been surprised by the flyover. They even took pictures as it happened during the morning of August 28. A short time afterwards, the deputy US ambassador telephoned with the German Foreign Ministry to discuss the issue. But what the ministry is now describing as an “information exchange,” was apparently a complaint.

Full article: NSA Affair: Germans Conduct Helicopter Flyover of US Consulate (Spiegel Online)

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