• France's news in English

German spies targeted French foreign minister

DPA/The Local · 11 Nov 2015, 16:16

Published: 11 Nov 2015 11:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Nov 2015 16:16 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Fabius, who has been Foreign Minister in President François Hollande's government since 2012, is the highest-profile target yet to surface in leaks about spying by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

The experienced Socialist politician – who was also modern France's youngest Prime Minister under President Francois Mitterrand in the 1980s – has been at the heart of many of the world's crises over the past three years.

He has been Hollande's right-hand man in Europe's face-off with Russia over Ukraine, in nuclear talks with Iran, and over deployments of French troops to African flashpoints including Mali and the Central African Republic.

Fabius is also heading up France's mission to wrangle the nations of the world into a successful deal at the COP21 climate change summit to be held in Paris next month.

Asked about the latest allegations, German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz pledged a full investigation.

"The duties of the BND do not include political reconnaissance work against partner countries," she told reporters.

She added that BND chief Gerhard Schindler still had the "full confidence of the German government".

Spies defied German constitution

Spies at the BND also watched the communications of German diplomat Hansjörg Haber, currently EU ambassador to Turkey, according to information seen by Berlin radio station RBB.

Haber's previous positions, first as head of an EU observation mission to Georgia following that country's 2008 war with Russia, and secondly as head of the planning office at the EU diplomatic service, made him a juicy target.

As a German citizen, the BND ought not to have been able to touch him without authorization from MPs.

Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said German diplomats as a rule took precautions against snooping but did "not expect to be spied on by the BND".

Full list to be revealed on Wednesday

Three MPs on the Bundestag (German parliament) committee of inquiry into the country's spy services are set to present a report on Wednesday on a 900-page list of the BND's targets – a list they have examined in recent weeks.

The committee chairman has himself been the target of hacking and phone tampering.

The BND may well be tipped into a fresh crisis over what RBB calls "highly explosive" information that the MPs are expected to reveal.

RBB reports their questionable targets included the International Criminal Court at The Hague, UN children's agency UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the FBI and US state broadcaster Voice of America.

Many American and European firms, including US arms company Lockheed Martin, are also on the list.

Agency racked by crises


The latest news report on the BND spy service fuels a debate in Germany about state surveillance that was kicked off by the revelations of fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Cases of spying on friends – expected to include many ministries, government offices and embassies belonging to European allies and the US – are particularly embarrassing for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel famously said that "spying among friends is not at all OK" after learning of spying on Germany - and her own phone - by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

But it has gradually emerged over the course of 2015 that the BND, often in cooperation with the Americans, has itself been very busy spying on its allies - and even its own citizens and companies such as Siemens.

The head of the BND effectively said in May that his agency was forced to spy on targets set by the NSA in exchange for information needed to keep Germany safe from attack.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available