German intelligence chief 'fired on Merkel's orders'

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By Euronews
German intelligence chief 'fired on Merkel's orders'

The head of Germany’s version of the CIA is being removed on the orders of Chancellor Merkel, according to domestic media reports.

Sources claim Gerhard Schindler, who has led the BND foreign intelligence agency since 2012, is being forced out for reasons that are not immediately clear.

Schindler, 63, survived a scandal a year ago when it emerged that the BND went against German interests by spying on European partners at the request of the US National Security Agency.

His reported replacement is finance ministry official Bruno Kahl, 53, a close ally of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

As yet, there is no official confirmation of any such change at the top.

Surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany because of the extensive snooping by the Stasi secret police in communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era.

Any shift in senior personnel at the BND would come at a time when Germany is facing a growing threat from ISIL.

Germany has not suffered a major attack by Islamist militants on its soil, but hundreds of its citizens have travelled to Syria in recent years to join the group and some members of the network behind the Paris and Brussels attacks travelled through Germany.

Long based in southern Germany, the BND is due to move into a brand new headquarters in Berlin next year.