Germany asks Britain for explanation of spying report

5th November 2013, Comments 0 comments

Germany said Tuesday it had asked to speak to Britain's ambassador following a media report that London has been operating a secret listening post from its embassy in the German capital.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the British envoy was called in and it was pointed out that "tapping communication from an embassy would be a violation of international law".

The request, which was not a summons but is unusual between European Union partners, was prompted by a report in the Independent newspaper Tuesday of a spy post not far from Chancellor Angela Merkel's office in Berlin.

Almost two weeks ago, Germany summoned the US ambassador over evidence that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped Merkel's mobile phone, fraying German-US ties.

The Independent report said Britain's electronic eavesdropping centre GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) appeared to be using high-tech equipment on the embassy roof to intercept German data.

The broadsheet cited aerial photographs and information about past spying activities in Germany, as well as documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has fled to Moscow.

An eavesdropping post on the roof of the US embassy in Berlin is believed to have been shut down last week as Washington scrambled to limit damage from the row, the Independent reported.

William Gatward, press spokesman for the British embassy, confirmed the meeting had taken place. "The ambassador did attend the meeting at the foreign ministry this afternoon," he told AFP, without giving further details.


© 2013 AFP

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