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Belgium probes Germany spying claims

Published on 29/05/2015

Belgium has launched an investigation into claims of widespread espionage by Germany, which is accused of helping the US spy on Berlin's closest allies in Europe, a minister said Friday.

“If it should emerge that the reports of wide-scale eavesdropping by the German secret services are correct, Germany will have to provide an explanation,” Telecoms Minister Alexander de Croo said on Friday.

According to various media reports, the snooping in Belgium took place by monitoring data carried through 15 cables, mostly operated by Proximus, the national telecom giant.

Germany’s BND has been accused of helping the US National Security Agency (NSA) spy on political and business targets in Europe, including the French government, European Commission and Airbus Group.

The claims — and questions of how much the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel knew about the reported joint spying — have occupied German politics and media for weeks, and are subject to two parliamentary inquests.

Merkel has pledged to testify before the panels if asked, while some European governments have made moves to look more closely into the claims.

Austria’s government earlier this month filed a legal complaint against an unnamed party concerning “secret intelligence to the detriment of Austria”.

France meanwhile said that it was confident the German government will take action on the claims, maintaining it still trusted its closest ally.