Austrian leaders demand comprehensive clarification from germany on revelations that the federal intelligence service (BND) systematically intercepted authorities and companies in the alpine republic over many years.
"The outmab of surveillance was an enormous one," chancellor sebastian kurz said on saturday. Federal president alexander van der bellen said: "spying among friendly states is not only unusual and undesirable, but is unacceptable."The two spoke at a joint press conference scheduled at short notice.
The BND is said to have systematically monitored the telecommunications of central institutions in austria between 1999 and 2006, the austrian news magazine "profil" and the viennese newspaper "der standard" reported on saturday. Based on internal BND files, it is clear that a total of 2,000 telephone, fax and mobile lines as well as e-mail addresses were targeted by the german intelligence service during this period.
The findings are probably not new in principle, but the details are irritating, the politicians explained.
Kurz said that the first suspicions had already arisen in 2014. In 2016, germany passed a law requiring the cessation of espionage among friends. Austria now wants to know who was monitored and when the monitoring ended. And it must be certain "that it has ended". If data had been stored, it had to be deleted, he demanded. If there is new information, the public prosecutor’s office in austria may become active.
"Profil" wrote that from 1999 onwards, the BND was mainly interested in diplomatic missions and international organizations in vienna. The file included more than 200 telecommunications connections in 75 embassies, including the USA, iran, iraq, pakistan, libya, afghanistan, israel and north korea. In addition, there are tapped numbers at the opec oil cartel, two dozen numbers at the organization for security and cooperation in europe (OSCE), 180 at the international atomic energy agency (IAEA), and a further two dozen numbers at the european commission. At other organizations of the UN, 128 connections were recorded, "profil" said. In addition, dozens of companies, including arms manufacturers and other important exporters, were targeted by the BND.
The parliamentary control committee of the secret services (PKG) of the bundestag has already become active. "We are examining whether the accusations are new or whether they are part of the accusations that already became known in 2015," PKG chairman armin schuster (CDU) told the newspapers of the funke mediengruppe. Schuster announced first findings by the end of next week. The committee may convene for a special meeting next week.
The CDU politician affirmed that it was "often neither verhaltnismabig, nor in the matter declarable" that the BND had spied on other european states in the past. As a consequence, the bundestag also changed the BND law during the last election period. It sets "very different conditions for the service than before 2015," schuster said.