No protest from Kabul over eavesdropping: Germany

April 25th, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by admin  

Berlin, April 25 (DPA) Amid claims that Germany’s federal intellilgence service BND had bugged Afghan minister Amin Farhang, Berlin said Friday it had not received any protest from Kabul. Farhang himself was quoted Friday in a newspaper, the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, voicing outrage that the BND had monitored his e-mails. He said he was “disappointed” that neither the German government nor the BND had apologised to him personally.

The BND did voice regret this week that it had read mails from German journalists who contacted Farhang. This was slammed in the German media as interference with freedom of the press.

Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Friday that Germany changed its regulations in 2007 to ensure that surveillance with foreign-policy implications could not be initiated by lower-level intelligence officials.

Wilhelm confirmed reports that BND staff had been transferred or disciplined at the demand of Chancellor Angela Merkel. He added that an inquiry panel was studying what had happened in the department concerned at the BND.

The foreign ministry in Berlin said relations with Kabul remained “close and trusting”. Spokesman Martin Jaeger said Kabul had not made any official request for an explanation, nor had the German ambassador to Kabul been summoned to discuss the issue.

He did not directly confirm the bugging, saying only that Berlin had “noted” Farhang’s account in media reports.

The BND admits it read e-mail messages by a German journalist reporting on Afghanistan for Der Spiegel news magazine. Those messages were apparently picked up during surveillance of Farhang’s computer.

Ernst Uhrlau, the president of the BND, gave details in closed session this week to a parliamentary committee.

Uhrlau earlier informed the journalist, Susanne Koelbl, who has long reported on the region for the well-known weekly, that she had been monitored during the course of 2006.

Der Spiegel said it was considering legal action on the grounds of Germany’s stringent laws governing freedom of the press.

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