Is the German government on Germanys side?

The news that the American spy organisation NSA has targeted the major German magazine Der Spiegel are serious and disturbing. But it is just the tip of the iceberg.

As it turns out the German government knew. But it did nothing to stop it. It didn’t report the issue to relevant democratic oversight bodies. And even worse — it lied about the matter to the German parliament.

To make things even worse it’s still unclear if the NSA obtained it’s information by spying on the newspaper, the Chancellors Office or the entire German political apparatus.

Der Spiegel writes…

“It remains unclear just who US intelligence originally had in its scopes. The question is also unlikely to be answered by the parliamentary investigative committee, because the US appears to have withheld this information from the Chancellery. Theoretically, at least, there are three possibilities: The Chancellery — at least in the person of Hans Josef Vorbeck. SPIEGEL journalists. Or blanket surveillance of Berlin’s entire government quarter. The NSA is capable of any of the three options. And it is important to note that each of these acts would represent a violation of German law.”

In Germany the constitution and the freedom of the press is taken seriously. What has been going on is in direct conflict with principles clearly laid out by the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

“If it is true that a foreign intelligence agency spied on journalists as they conducted their reporting in Germany and then informed the Chancellery about it, then these actions would place a huge question mark over the notion of a free press in this country. Germany’s highest court ruled in 2007 that press freedom is a “constituent part of a free and democratic order.” The court held that reporting can no longer be considered free if it entails a risk that journalists will be spied on during their reporting and that the federal government will be informed of the people they speak to.”

This affair is now snowballing, putting the Chancellors Office under serious pressure. In a special editors note, Der Spiegel notes…

“The fact that the press no longer has a special protected status and can be spied upon in the same way as corporations, associations or government ministries, lends a new quality to the spying scandal. That the press appears to have been betrayed by its own government is outrageous. For this reason, SPIEGEL decided this week to file a complaint with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of intelligence agency activity.”

It seems that the German intelligence services and the Chancellors Office have neglected both democratic and judicial requirements to keep good working relations with the Americans.

This leading up to a situation where leading German officials appears to have sided with US intelligence services — rather than with the German constitution, German law, the German parliament and the German people.

Read more: An Attack on Press Freedom: SPIEGEL Targeted by US Intelligence »



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