German spy agency’s new home flooded after taps stolen

The nearly completed building in central Berlin is to be the new headquarters of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, which is currently based in Munich.

On Wednesday, the building suffered extensive water damage after someone tampered with the water pipes despite strict security on site. As a result, water flooded cable and air shafts and suspended ceilings for several hours, according to daily “Berliner Zeitung.” Continue reading

Witness: German intelligence helped NSA to tap Internet hub

A German parliamentary inquiry has been told that German intelligence fed America’s NSA filtered data from an Internet hub in Frankfurt, after clearance from Berlin. The “Eikonal” project ended in 2008.

A witness told a German parliamentary inquiry on Thursday that America’s NSA was fed filtered data from an internet exchange point in Frankfurt, after an OK from the Chancellery in Berlin.

The Eikonal project leader within Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency – identified only as S.L. – said the exchange’s own operator had legal doubts, but was convinced once confirmation came from the-then chancellery. Continue reading

Berlin’s digital exiles: where tech activists go to escape the NSA

With its strict privacy laws, Germany is the refuge of choice for those hounded by the security services. Carole Cadwalladr visits Berlin to meet Laura Poitras, the director of Edward Snowden film Citizenfour, and a growing community of surveillance refuseniks

It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest thing, Laura Poitras tells me. “Not knowing whether I’m in a private place or not.” Not knowing if someone’s watching or not. Though she’s under surveillance, she knows that. It makes working as a journalist “hard but not impossible”. It’s on a personal level that it’s harder to process. “I try not to let it get inside my head, but… I still am not sure that my home is private. And if I really want to make sure I’m having a private conversation or something, I’ll go outside.”

Poitras’s documentary about Edward Snowden, Citizenfour, has just been released in cinemas. She was, for a time, the only person in the world who was in contact with Snowden, the only one who knew of his existence. Before she got Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian on board, it was just her – talking, electronically, to the man she knew only as “Citizenfour”. Even months on, when I ask her if the memory of that time lives with her still, she hesitates and takes a deep breath: “It was really very scary for a number of months. I was very aware that the risks were really high and that something bad could happen. I had this kind of responsibility to not fuck up, in terms of source protection, communication, security and all those things, I really had to be super careful in all sorts of ways.”

Bad, not just for Snowden, I say? “Not just for him,” she agrees. We’re having this conversation in Berlin, her adopted city, where she’d moved to make a film about surveillance before she’d ever even made contact with Snowden. Because, in 2006, after making two films about the US war on terror, she found herself on a “watch list”. Every time she entered the US – “and I travel a lot” – she would be questioned. “It got to the point where my plane would land and they would do what’s called a hard stand, where they dispatch agents to the plane and make everyone show their passport and then I would be escorted to a room where they would question me and oftentimes take all my electronics, my notes, my credit cards, my computer, my camera, all that stuff.” She needed somewhere else to go, somewhere she hoped would be a safe haven. And that somewhere was Berlin. Continue reading

Berlin’s Priorities

BERLIN/ANKARA/RIYADH (Own report) – The German Chancellor is raising strong accusations against Turkey. One should “be able to expect from a NATO member country” that it “will set the right priorities” and ultimately give precedence to the struggle against IS, Angela Merkel said yesterday (Wednesday), in reference to the catastrophic situation in the North Syrian border town of Kobani. Ankara is refusing any form of assistance to the Syrian-Kurdish combatants, trying to fend off the terrorist troops of the “Islamic State” (IS) storming the city. Observers are suspecting that an IS conquest of Kobani may even be to the Turkish government’s geostrategic advantage. Merkel’s accusations of Ankara are surprising – not solely, because Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has been systematically spying on Turkey. Therefore, Berlin had known of how Turkey has been supporting IS, without objecting. Likewise, Berlin had not intervened against the strategic measures being taken in Lebanon and Syria by the USA and Saudi Arabia, even though these also benefited the IS or other Salafist militias, that are today supporting the IS. Experts are warning that in the short-term, the strengthening of IS can no longer be halted. In the Turkish regions bordering on Syria, there could even be a similar development to the Afghan-Pakistan border.

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