German lawmaker upset by reports of British spying in Europe

Nov. 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM
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BERLIN, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A German lawmaker raised concerns Tuesday that Britain operates a top-secret spying operation targeting policymakers from its embassy in Berlin.

The angry sentiments come after revelations last week the U.S. embassy in Germany's capital conducted similar intelligence-gathering operations, including tapping the personal cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Disclosures the United States, Britain and other partners operated the surveillance from their embassies were made in documents released by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Jan Albrecht, a member of the European Parliament and an advocate for privacy and data protection, charged "if [British spy agency] GCHQ runs a listening post on the top of the U.K.'s Berlin embassy, it is clearly targeting politicians and journalists. Do these people pose a threat?" the British newspaper The Independent reported.

The British embassy is near the German Parliament and Merkel's offices.

Albrecht said British Prime Minister David Cameron had declined to respond to a request from the European Union to explain GCHQ's activities in Europe.

"This is hardly in the spirit of European co-operation," Albrecht said. "We are not enemies."

A spokesman for Cameron said Britain would not comment on intelligence operations.

Aerial photos of the British embassy show a cylindrical tent-like structure that cannot be seen from the street that could be a possible eavesdropping station. It has been in place since the embassy was opened in 2000.

Infrared images taken by a German television station appear to show a building on the roof of the U.S. embassy believed to be the base for American intelligence-gathering activities has been shut down.

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