Turkey Spying

Berlin Must Ensure Intelligence Services Operate Within the Law

Erdogan and Merkel. Source Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's working relationship may be soured by revelations of German intelligence services spying on Turkey.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s intelligence-gathering agencies can’t operate outside the law. The country’s secret service’s operations need to be critically reviewed to ensure they have a clear legal basis.

  • Facts


    • The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) allegedly intercepted telephone calls to and from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.
    • There’s an increased interest in Turkey because of its proximity to some of the globe’s most troublesome conflicts.
    • Despite the importance of spy agencies in protecting the nations they serve, they should be held accountable to the rule of law.
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Not long ago Germans were up in arms about the escalation of spying activities by U. S. intelligence gathering agencies, but now the Americans are outraged by the activities of the German Federal Intelligence Service, the BND.

The intelligence service apparently has been spying on Germany’s allies. There is evidence that it has been tapping into data compiled by NATO ally Turkey for years while intercepting phone calls from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, as a “byproduct” of spying efforts.

Intelligence agencies exist to siphon off information from abroad to ensure the security of the nation. Outrage from friends or allies should be muted by that understanding.

It’s more plausible than surprising that the BND would be deeply interested in Turkey, a nation that is an important yet problematic partner located in the middle of a region riven by political and military crises. Yet the BND and the German federal government find themselves in the awkward position of justifying their actions just weeks after they excoriated the United States for similar activities.

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