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Germany to tighten control of spy agencies

BERLIN, March 24 (UPI) -- Germany plans to tighten parliamentary control of its intelligence services.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the Social Democrats of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the Free Democrats, Germany's largest opposition group, back such a move, Der Spiegel reports. The three parties may file the draft as early as this Friday, the magazine said.

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The draft would expand the authorities of a parliamentary commission established to control the moves of the German intelligence services operating inside and outside of the country.

It would abolish a provision that requires witnesses from inside the services to first inform their superiors before filing a complaint with the commission; it would also enable the release of official statements connected to the proceedings of the commission, which meets behind closed doors.

The commission convened several times to investigate the Bundesnachrichtendienst, known as the BND, a German spy agency founded in 1956.

The BND has in the past years come under heavy fire for dubious interrogations in secret prisons in Afghanistan and Syria and in the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It also surfaced that the BND spied on journalists in Germany.

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