Germany calls in UK ambassador over intelligence-gathering concerns
Simon McDonald, the British ambassador to Germany, has been called in for a meeting with the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, amid reports that a spying post may be positioned on the roof of the British embassy in Berlin.
The Independent claims that leaked documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden point to a “top-secret listening post” capable of “intercepting mobile phone calls, wi-fi data and long-distance communications across the German capital.”
The post is said to be housed on the roof of the British embassy which is reportedly being used by Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British intelligence agency, to spy on top German politicians.
Westerwelle has called McDonald, seeking an urgent explanation. German authorities have publicly stated that “tapping communications from a diplomatic mission would be a violation of international law”. The revelation comes just weeks after America’s National Security Agency (NSA) was exposed as having tapped the phone of German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Merkel reportedly received personal assurances from American president Barack Obama that her phone would no longer be tapped, but the suspicion among German politicians is that GCHQ has merely started where the NSA left off. However, the report in The Independent says photographic evidence points to the listening post being set up as far back as 2000.
A Downing Street spokesman has made public assurances that GCHQ always operates by a “strong and clear legal framework” and added that prime minister David Cameron has an “excellent” relationship with Merkel. However, these latest revelations are sure to spark a deep diplomatic crisis between Germany and the UK.