Location Germany Germany

German foreign ministers are under permanent CIA control

Website «Wikileaks» published a scandalous materials about US intelligence monitoring of the foreign ministers of Germany.


Monday 20 July at 1800 CEST, WikiLeaks publishes evidence of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier along with a list of 20 target selectors for the Foreign Ministry. The list indicates that NSA spying on the Foreign Ministry extends back to the pre-9/11 era, including numbers for offices in Bonn and targeting Joschka Fischer, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2005.

Foreign Minister intercepted on CIA Renditions

Central to today’s publication is a Top Secret NSA intercept of the communications of Foreign Minister Steinmeier. The intercept dates from just after an official visit to the United States on 29 November 2005, where FM Steinmeier met his US counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

According to the intercept, Steinmeier «seemed relieved that he had not received any definitive response from the U.S. Secretary of State regarding press reports of CIA flights through Germany to secret prisons in eastern Europe allegedly used for interrogating terrorism suspects.»

The visit occurred in the context of an escalating and ongoing scandal in Europe over clandestine «rendition flights» conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using the airspace and airport facilities of cooperating European countries, in which it was alleged by leading news publications that European citizens and residents had been abducted outside of any legal process and taken to secret «black site» prisons, where they could be tortured with impunity. After the scandal emerged, European governments defied their publics, continuing to cooperate with the United States while denying all knowledge of rendition flights. These denials relied heavily on the insistence of European governments that they had received confidential «diplomatic assurances» from the United States that nothing illegal was taking place. It was subsequently shown in numerous court proceedings and commissions of inquiry that the activity was illegal.

At the time of Steinmeier’s meeting, reports of CIA rendition flights through Germany had recently emerged, and were publicly dismissed as unconfirmed by German authorities.

In the years since 2005, successive investigations by human rights groups and international bodies, such as the Council of Europe, have substantiated that extraordinary rendition was indeed occurring. In 2007 the European Parliament approved a finding in a report by a special investigative committee where it was stated that Germany, among other states, aided or knew about the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme.

Prior to becoming Foreign Minister in 2005, Frank-Walter Steinmeier served as Head of Chancellery (Chief of Staff) in the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, where he was responsible for coordinating the work of German intelligence agencies. In 2004, during this tenure, Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen, was abducted by the CIA and renditioned to a black site in Afghanistan where he was interrogated and tortured for four months. Eventually the CIA realised that it had the wrong «El-Masri», and dumped the German on a desolate road in Albania and began a cover-up. El-Masri’s case has been substantiated and confirmed in numerous inquiries, and at the European Court of Human Rights.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief, said: «Today’s publication indicates that the NSA has been used to help the CIA kidnap and torture with impunity. For years the CIA was systematically abducting and torturing people, with the tacit complicity of European governments. In 2005 German Foreign Minister Steinmeier was thrilled that his tactic of asking Condoleezza Rice no hard questions about CIA renditions had worked. The US said nothing that would require him to do anything. And how do we know about it? Because the National Security Agency was gloating to the US senior executive about intercepting this cowardly display. Nobody comes out of this looking good.»

20 New Selectors

Eleven of the 20 target selectors are cell numbers; there are two assigned to FM Steinmeier. One is a Vodafone number and the other a T-Mobile number labelled by NSA as “GE SPD STEINMEIER CELL”, indicating spying on Steinmeier’s internal communications at his SPD party level (Social Democratic Party).

Among others named on the list is Jürgen Borsch, who seems to have been intercepted when at the Crisis Response Centre at the Foreign Ministry, the Centre seemingly of particular interest to the NSA. Borsch is now the German Consul-General in Miami. Also named on the list are: Viktor Elbling, who is the Commissioner for International Energy Policy at the Foreign Ministry, Bernhard von Waldersee, former director for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs at the Foreign Ministry (2008–2011), now Ambassador to Argentina, and Peter Ammon, Secretary of State at the Foreign Office from 2008 to 2011 and then Ambassador in Washington until last year when he became the Ambassador to the United Kingdom in London.

Today’s publication of the 20 target selectors adds to the previous WikiLeaks publication of 125 German numbers targeted by the NSA, showing systematic mass spying on the Chancellor and the Chancellery (All the Chancellor’s Men, 8 July) and German politicians and officials handling economic, trade and financial affairs (The Euro Intercepts, 1 July).


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