Germany’s BND intelligence agency has resumed joint internet surveillance with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) after halting collaboration with Washington last year following a row over spying practices, German media reported.
Last May, German intelligence sources had stopped sending the NSA information gathered from its surveillance station in Bad Aibling in Bavaria. Collaboration had been suspended after it was revealed the US was spying on European officials and firms.
That move, which followed allegations the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) had helped the NSA spy on European officials and firms, strained German-U.S. relations and created divisions within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
Several German newspapers said that joint Internet surveillance had restarted at the Bavaria-based Bad Aibling station, whose IT system is considered central to monitoring Middle East countries in crisis, including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
The resumption of cooperation follows a more than eight-month hiatus, after revelations that the BND had helped the NSA spy on European officials and firms.
German intelligence teams have the technology to process large amounts of international satellite and Internet communications at the Bad Aibling site.
A deal was made several years ago between the two agencies to give the US access to the German IT system, in order to comb through the huge data streams for suspicious content.
To refine the results, the NSA provided certain search features, including email addresses, computer IP addresses and telephone numbers.
Last May, the German government suspended its cooperation with the NSA and launched an investigation. While German media reported that the allegations have since been dismissed, a report by the government-appointed special investigator Kurt Graulich in November found that the US had repeatedly tried to use BND technology to spy on Europeans.