There are claims that the UK as well as the US has been spying on Germany from a sophisticated electronic listening post within the British embassy in Berlin.
After reports published in the media in the morning, the British ambassador in Berlin was summoned by Germany’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday afternoon.
British newspaper the Independent claims that documents leaked by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that Britain, the US and some Commonwealth countries – Canada, Australia and New Zealand – operate a spying “coalition” from diplomatic buildings around the world.
Following the damaging revelations that the US listened to Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls, a listening centre within the American embassy in Berlin is believed to have been shut down.
The German Chancellor told President Obama it was “not done” for friendly nations to spy on one another.
The so-called “nest” from which data was intercepted was reportedly jointly run by the CIA and US National Security Agency.
The latest claims suggest Britain operates a similar eavesdropping unit close by in the heart of the German capital, close to the German parliament and Merkel’s offices in the Chancellery, using hi-tech equipment housed on the embassy roof.
The Independent reports that according to one NSA document, some US monitoring posts around the world have been closed and part of their work transferred to Britain’s intelligence centre at GCHQ.
The British government has not responded, saying it does not comment on intelligence matters. The German Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirmed that the UK had been summoned, adding:
“The director of the European department asked for an explanation of current reports in British media and indicated that tapping communications from a diplomatic mission would be a violation of international law.”