German Government Accused of Spying On Foreign Journalists

The logo of the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) is pictured during the 60th anniversary of the founding of the German Intelligence Services (BND) in Berlin, Germany, on November 28, 2016. / AFP / POOL / HANNIBAL HANSCHKE (Photo credit should read HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/AFP/Getty Images)

A damning new report claims that the German Federal Intelligence Service, the BND, spied on foreign journalists from various outlets including Reuters and the BBC.

Germany’s spy agency, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), operates much like the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency gathering data on foreign threats, but new documents obtained by German magazine Der Spiegel allege that the agency has also been spying on foreign journalists as well.

According to the magazine, the leaked document show that the BND had tapped at least 50 fax numbers, phone numbers and email addresses of foreign journalists and editors since 1999.

One of the prime targets for the BND was the BBC and its various operations in Afghanistan and its headquarters in London. The BND had at least a dozen contacts under observation. The New York Times bureau in Afghanistan was also monitored, and the satellite phones of Reuters news agency in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria were also tapped.

German law is very clear when it comes to how the state must act in regard to the press and one of the laws is supposed to guarantee press freedom by not allowing the state to interfere with news organisations. NGO Reporters Without Borders (ROG) believes that the BND have violated the law and has called the agency’s actions a “monstrous attack on freedom of the press.”

The NGO stated that they fear the BND will continue to spy on foreign journalists and along with other journalist associations has said they will launch a constitutional court case against the agency.

The BND has so far refused to comment on the allegations, but other branches of the intelligence service are quite candid when it comes to admitting their monitoring actions of certain people and certain groups.

The domestic intelligence service the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) freely admitted that they spy not only on radical Islamist networks but also on the hipster-right Identitarian youth movement who regularly engage in Greenpeace-like demonstrations against mass migration and radical Islam.

The BfV was also compromised last November when it was revealed that a member of the agency had not only been recruiting for radical Islamists but had been actively plotting terrorist attacks on the agency itself. The agency eventually caught the man, who had only been working with them since April of the same year, because one of the people he was attempting to recruit on the internet turned out also to be a BfV officer.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at



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