European Federation of Journalists

German Intelligence Agency spied on at least 50 foreign journalists, reveals Spiegel Online

On 24 February 2017, Spiegel Online reported in an article that the German foreign intelligence agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) apparently spied on at least 50 telephone and fax numbers or email addresses of journalists or newsrooms worldwide from 1999 onwards.

According to documents seen by Spiegel, among the targets were the BBC in Afghanistan and London, the New York Times in Afghanistan, as well as mobile and satellite telephones of the news agency Reuters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Spiegel Online doesn’t mention the nature of the journalists’ work and the length of the surveillance.

Last October, the German Bundestag has passed the new BND law which doesn’t include exemptions for foreign journalists. The bill allows, for example, the BND to place a foreign journalist under surveillance if the newspaper receives confidential information that the German authorities considers as sensitive. The European Federation of Journalists, along with its German affiliates – the Deutscher Journalisten-Verband (DJV) and the DeutscheJournalistinnen- und Journalisten-Union in ver.di (dju in ver.di) – urged the German Bundestag to back off on the revision of the Bundesnachrichtendienst.

The cases were reported to the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism.