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News > World

NSA Accused of Spying on German Press

  • The NSA has been accused of snooping on German officials and journalists.

    The NSA has been accused of snooping on German officials and journalists. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 July 2015

The NSA is facing new allegations it snooped on communications between German magazine Der Spiegel and senior government officials.

The U.S. National Security Agency spied on German journalists and took action to silence their sources, according to allegations that surfaced Thursday.

The allegations center around the case of one of Germany's former top intelligence officials, Hans Josef Vorbeck.

According to a report by The Intercept, while serving as Germany's deputy coordinator of intelligence services, Vorbeck was suspected by the NSA of leaking information to the press. In a closed door meeting with Vorbeck's boss, the German intelligence coordinator Gunter Heiss, the NSA aired its suspicions and argued for action against Vorbeck, claiming it had evidence he had been in contact with the press.

Shortly after, Vorbeck was shuffled to an archiving post – a move widely seen as an embarrassing demotion.

The Intercept report is largely based on information garnered from documents published by WikiLeaks, along with a separate report by German magazine Der Spiegel.

U.S. officials reportedly told Spiegel the alleged leaks by Vorbeck posed a national security concern. The magazine has now filed a criminal complaint to German prosecutors, alleging the NSA spied on its communications with senior government officials, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. National Security Council has hit back by arguing the NSA does not spy on “ordinary people who don't threaten our national security.”

“While we are not going to discuss specific targets, we have repeatedly made clear that the United States does not collect intelligence for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion,” Council spokesperson Ned Price has said in a statement to numerous media outlets.

However, German journalists have responded to the allegations by stating if the NSA is spying on the media, it could undermine the free press.

"It feels bitter to learn that American intelligence agencies spied on reporters in another country and denounced alleged sources to the government," one unnamed reporter told CNN.

Another stated, “This case threatens the core of the whole idea of an independent control of a government through the public."

The latest claims of spying are linked to allegations the NSA also bugged German ministers, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

RELATED: Obama Administration Still After Edward Snowden

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