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Germany scraps old surveillance pact with US, Britain over NSA leaks

Published time: August 02, 2013 17:29
Edited time: August 04, 2013 15:24
Broken antenna covers of Former National Security Agency (NSA) listening station are seen at the Teufelsberg hill (German for Devil's Mountain) in Berlin (Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski)

Broken antenna covers of Former National Security Agency (NSA) listening station are seen at the Teufelsberg hill (German for Devil's Mountain) in Berlin (Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski)

Germany has dissolved a fifty-years-old surveillance pact with the United States and Britain in response to a “debate about protecting personal privacy” in the country, which was sparked by revelations of the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The agreement that dated back to the late 1960s gave the US, Britain and France the right to request German authorities carry out surveillance operations so as to protect their troops stationed within the country.

“The cancellation of the administrative agreements, which we have pushed for in recent weeks, is a necessary and proper consequence of the recent debate about protecting personal privacy,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement on Friday.

Germany was currently in talks with France to cancel its part of the agreement as well, a German official told AP on condition of anonymity.

Following Snowden’s leaks, which disclosed the span of the NSA surveillance program and revealed that Germany is the most spied on EU country by the US, there has been a heated nationwide debate on whether the alleged massive privacy breach of German citizens should have been allowed.

The documents leaked Snowden say that the US spy agency combs through half a billion of German phone calls, emails and text messages on a monthly basis.

Weeks before German national elections, the country’s opposition parties demanded to clarification to what extent the government knew of the NSA’s intelligence gathering in Germany. This comes amid reports of seemingly close ties the two national spy agencies – the NSA and the BND – have had over the years.

German government officials have insisted that American and British intelligence agencies were never given permission to break Germany’s strict privacy laws.

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