Germany weighs how to hit back in US spying row

Berlin (AFP) – Germany debated retaliatory measures against the United States on Tuesday after the discovery of an alleged double agent stoked still smouldering public anger over the NSA scandal.

The case of a German intelligence operative suspected of spying for Washington drew a fierce response from Berlin, where indignation against one of its closest allies has run high since reports last year that the US National Security Agency (NSA) tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.

Merkel fumed over the latest allegations on a visit to China, saying on Monday that if they proved to be true it “would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners.”

Members of her cabinet went further, with Justice Minister Heiko Maas saying that German authorities should consider “criminal proceedings” against US spies.

“The American intelligence services are obsessed with surveillance,” he said.

And Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, reportedly sent an internal memorandum calling for a new “360-degree approach” to intelligence gathering — seen as a call to counter-espionage efforts against allies.

NATO partners including Washington are currently exempt from targeted German espionage operations under orders from Merkel’s office, the daily Bild reported.

Some called for cooler heads to prevail, saying the country’s spies had little chance of beating the Americans at their own game and calling for Germany to respect the lessons of its history of mass state snooping under the Nazi and communist regimes.

“You cannot criticise the massive collection of data by US agencies and then do the same,” Rolf Muetzenich, deputy head of the parliamentary group of the Social Democrats, partners in Merkel’s left-right government, told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

Full article: Germany weighs how to hit back in US spying row (Yahoo!)

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