Austria files legal complaint over suspected German spying

Interior ministry confirms action after media reports of BND and NSA activity in Europe

Austria’s interior ministerJohanna Mikl-Leitner. Ms Mikl-Leitner announced that Austria has filed a legal complaint over suspicions of spying by Germany’s BND agency.  Photograph: Hans Techt/EPA

Austria’s interior ministerJohanna Mikl-Leitner. Ms Mikl-Leitner announced that Austria has filed a legal complaint over suspicions of spying by Germany’s BND agency. Photograph: Hans Techt/EPA

 

Austria has filed a legal complaint over suspicions that Germany’s BND intelligence agency and the US National Security Agency might have spied on its authorities and firms, the Austrian interior minister said today.

German chancellor Angela Merkel had defended the BND on Monday against accusations that it illegally helped the US spy on officials and companies in Europe.

“Austria demands clarification,” interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told reporters, following German media reports about such activities.

Ms Mikl-Leitner said that Austria’s security authorities were in contact with their German counterparts.

“Today we have filed a legal complaint with the prosecutor’s office,” she said, “against an unknown entity, due to secret intelligence services to Austria’s disadvantage”.

Snowden revelations

Revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that Washington carried out large-scale electronic espionage in Europe had previously provoked outrage.

The German chancellery has said it had known of the NSA interest in spying on European defence firms since 2008, even though German parliament was told in 2014 that it had no information about that.

Ms Mikl-Leitner said Austria will try to resolve the situation through its security, diplomatic and judicial bodies.

“There is no concrete evidence yet,” she said. “It’s not far-fetched to suspect that Austria was also spied on.”

Reuters