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Germany opens criminal probe into spying operations by NSA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Germany’s lead federal prosecutor has opened a criminal probe into espionage operations by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the nation’s leadership; especially the allegation of NSA’s spying against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Alex Newman of The New American reported on Wednesday that the German government is furious and is looking to prosecute specific U.S. government agents and if the probe proves that NSA also spied on German citizens, such spying is a violation of German law but that has not been forthcoming as of yet.

The allegations of NSA’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel was first exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden who exposed NSA’s spying on American citizens and U.S. officials, and who some have called a hero while others have branded Snowden as a traitor.

When Snowden was interviewed back in January 2014, in Moscow for the German television station, ARD, Snowden said that it was unlikely that Chancellor Angela Merkel was the only member of the German government who was spied on.

Snowden said, “I would say it is not very likely that someone who cares about intentions of the German government would only monitor Merkel.”

At the same time, DPA/The Local, a German news outlet reported that Parliamentary chairman of the Centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) Thomas Oppermann said, “A “No Spy” treaty must come. Obama’s speech can only be the beginning. The USA knows that spying for us is a crime. The German justice system will not stand idly by if the efforts of the NSA blithely continue here.”

Now that the NSA spying scandal has reached a critical point of criminal prosecution probes by the German government, Newman said, “Federal officials in Berlin had been investigating the alleged NSA crimes since last year following the explosive revelations of the U.S. government’s spying leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden a year ago. Some analysts called him a whistle-blower hero; others refer to him as a traitor. Nonetheless, the leaks caused a global uproar that included mass outrage in the United States, where hundreds of millions of Americans had their constitutionally protected rights violated by the agency.”

Newman outlined that the prosecution will move forward and stated that any individuals who are criminally prosecuted for espionage will probably be charged under Article 99 of the German penal code.

The German code reads in part by saying: “Those who carry out secret service activities for a foreign power against the German state are subject to up to five years or in extreme cases up to 10 years in prison.”

Newman went to say that although the prosecutor so far has not pursued to prosecute those responsible for spying on everyday citizens, the prosecutor’s office said it would continue to monitor the “mass collection of telecommunication data of the public in Germany” by U.S. and U.K. intelligence outfits.

The prosecutor’s statement said, “We will intensify the prosecution of cyber espionage,” the statement added, suggesting the cases could be re-opened later if more evidence is uncovered.”

Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time such first time that U.S. intelligence officials have been prosecuted in European courts.

“Still, it would not be the first time in recent memory that U.S. intelligence officials have been prosecuted in European courts,” Newman said. “In 2009, for example, 23 Central Intelligence Agency operatives in Italy were convicted in absentia by an Italian court for their role in kidnapping an Egyptian dissident for torture in Egypt. Despite claiming to just be “following orders,” all the CIA agents fled the country prior to being apprehended and jailed.”

In related news, back in March 2014, Spiegel Online International reported that documents show that Britain's GCHQ intelligence service infiltrated German Internet firms and America's NSA obtained a court order to spy on Germany and collected information about the chancellor in a special database.

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