BERLIN – The head of German foreign intelligence denied Wednesday that Berlin was carrying out bugging operations from its embassy in the United States in a deepening espionage row.
“No telecommunication-intelligence is conducted from the German embassy in Washington,” Gerhard Schindler, head of the BND agency, was quoted by Zeit online news site as saying.
Reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has listened in on the communications of dozens of foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have provoked outrage in Germany and across Europe.
On Tuesday, General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, and the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers that foreign nations were also spying on US leaders.
They dismissed as “completely false” allegations that American spy agencies had swept up data on millions of European phone calls.
They said European media that had made those claims — based on leaks from fugitive analyst Edward Snowden — did not understand the data they were using to make the allegations.
A delegation of German chancellery and intelligence officials is due Wednesday to meet US government representatives in Washington, according to local DPA news agency.
It said Berlin’s medium-term goal was to reach a bilateral accord under which Washington would agree, among other things, not to spy on the government, officials and diplomatic missions.
In July, Snowden had told German news weekly Der Spiegel that Western states were “in bed” with the NSA in running secret spying partnerships.