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  • Allegations of secret Colombian plan to undermine EU (2010)

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    A group of MEPs is calling for action as further details of an alleged covert operation conducted by the Colombian intelligence agency (DAS) continue to emerge, with one of its reported aims being to undermine the authority of the European Parliament.
    Recently released documents that were confiscated from the DAS by the Colombian Attorney General’s office highlight the nature of “Operation Europe.”

    The alleged action in Europe includes phone tapping and the interception of emails (Photo: Flickr.com)
    Its objective was to “neutralise the influence of the European judicial system, the European Parliament’s human rights sub-committee, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” reads one text seen by this website.

    Following lines suggest the process of discrediting these institutions should be carried out by waging a “legal war.”

    News of the Colombian agency’s activities targeting national and international human rights defenders, NGOs and democratic organisations, of which ‘Operation Europe’ was only one part, first broke in the Colombian media in early 2009.

    As the scandal grew, former right-wing President Alvaro Uribe finally moved to stem the criticism by introducing legislation late last year to overhaul the controversial agency, although it has yet to be approved by the country’s legislature.

    But a group of MEPs, primarily from the European Parliament’s Green group, are not satisfied, fearing that the reported campaign of close surveillance and threat-making against Bogota’s critics may simply continue under a different guise.

    Their concerns are backed up by the Colombian Commission of Jurists, among others, a group of legal activists that says the law does not “establish adequate, effective and independent oversight of intelligence activities.”

    Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek is one of those to have put questions to the European Commission and Council of Ministers, but said the answers she received were “not satisfactory.”

    In responding to the queries last month, the commission said it was “well aware of the reports relating to alleged illegal spying by the DAS” and has raised the matter with the Colombian authorities on several occasions.

    The EU executive body added that it has faith in the current investigation being carried out by the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office and has been informed of the draft law to liquidate the DAS and set up a new agency.

    Others want more, however.

    “There should be a full police and judicial investigation of the alleged crimes,” said centre-left MEP Richard Howitt. “All of us at member-state level and within the European institutions should take full responsibility for making sure such investigations are conducted.”

    Hopes for the Belgian Presidency

    Unhappy with the current level of action, Ms Lunacek says she has greater hopes for the next six months, with Spain set to hand over the reins of the EU’s rotating presidency on 1 July.

    “The Spanish government is very in favour of the free trade agreement with Colombia [initialed in May], and they don’t want anything to jeopardise that,” the Austrian deputy told EUobserver. “But then the Belgians will take over the presidency and they have citizens that have been proven to have suffered phone tapping by the DAS.”

    One of those Belgian citizens who claims to have been a victim of DAS activities is Paul-Emile Dupret, a political advisor to the European Parliament’s left-wing United European Left (GUE) group.

    “My name is mentioned on the DAS file several times,” he says, believing it to be partially the result of his involvement in the organisation of an anti-Uribe protest in 2004 when the ex-President visited the European Parliament.

    Several months after the protest, Mr Dupret was arrested upon landing in the United States. “I was interrogated when I arrived, put in prison for 24 hours, asked dozens of questions about by views on Colombia,” he says. “Since then I have been prevented from returning to the US. They now consider me a terrorist.”

    The close ties between Washington and Bogota are well known.

    The Belgian citizen is currently working with a group of other victims and a team of lawyers, and plans to present their collective case against the Colombian agency in the Belgian courts this July, the first European citizens to do so.

    Certain European NGOs also claim to have been the target of a concerted campaign to discredit their activities and tarnish their reputations. Amongst them is the Belgian faith-based NGO Broederlijk Delen, whose representative Patricia Verbauwhede attended a press conference in parliament this week.

    “The EU needs to make a statement on the DAS,” she said. “We request an investigation of the DAS on European soil and we feel the EU should not conclude its free trade agreement with Colombia.”

    So far the sought-after strong statements and investigations have not been forthcoming.

    BRUSSELS, 25. JUN 2010, 09:28
    Find this story at 25 June 2010

    Copyright https://euobserver.com/

    Uzbekistan: US and Europe turning a blind eye to torture

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    The USA, Germany, and other European Union countries’ continuing ‘blind-spot’ to endemic torture in Uzbekistan ensures that appalling abuses will continue unabated, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.
    The report, Secrets and Lies: Forced confessions under torture in Uzbekistan, reveals how rampant torture and other ill-treatment plays a “central role” in the country’s justice system and the government’s clampdown on any group perceived as a threat to national security. It warns that police and security forces frequently use torture to extract confessions, to intimidate entire families or as a threat to extract bribes.
    “It’s an open secret that anyone who falls out of favour with the authorities can be detained and tortured in Uzbekistan. No one can escape the tendrils of the state,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director, launching the report in Berlin.
    “What is shameful is that many governments, including the USA, are turning a blind eye to appalling torture, seemingly for fear of upsetting an ally in the ‘war on terror’. Other governments, like Germany, appear to be more concerned with business opportunities and not rocking the boat.”
    “Strategic Patience” a shameful strategy in the face of human rights violations
    As the 10th anniversary of the May 2005 Andizhan mass killings of hundreds of protestors approaches, Amnesty International’s report highlights how the USA and EU governments, including Germany, have put security, political, military and economic interests ahead of any meaningful action to pressure the Uzbekistani authorities to fully respect human rights and stop torture by its authorities.
    European sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan after the 2005 mass killings in Andizhan were lifted in 2008 and 2009, revoking travel bans and allowing arms sales to resume despite no one being held to account for the killings. The last time EU foreign ministers even put Uzbekistan’s human rights record on the agenda was in October 2010.
    Germany in particular has close military ties with Uzbekistan. In November 2014 it renewed a lease for an airbase in Termez to provide support to German troops in Afghanistan. On 2 March 2015, Germany and Uzbekistan agreed a €2.8 billion investment and trade package.
    The attitude of Uzbekistan’s international partners to the routine use of torture appears at best ambivalent, and at worst silent to the point of complicity. The USA describes its engagement with Uzbekistan as a policy of “strategic patience”, but it is perhaps better described as strategic indulgence. The USA, Germany, and the EU should immediately demand that Uzbekistan clean up its act and stop torture.
    John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director, Amnesty International
    In January 2012, the US government waived restrictions on military aid to Uzbekistan originally imposed in 2004, due in part to the country’s human rights record. This year the military relationship between the two countries strengthened significantly with the implementation of a new five-year plan for military cooperation.
    In December 2014, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia, Nisha Biswal, said Washington exercised “strategic patience” in relations with Uzbekistan.
    “The attitude of Uzbekistan’s international partners to the routine use of torture appears at best ambivalent, and at worst silent to the point of complicity. The USA describes its engagement with Uzbekistan as a policy of “strategic patience”, but it is perhaps better described as strategic indulgence. The USA, Germany, and the EU should immediately demand that Uzbekistan clean up its act and stop torture,” said John Dalhuisen.
    “The international ban on torture is absolute and immediate. Yet while Germany and the USA foster closer ties with Uzbekistan, people are being snatched up by police, tortured into confessing to trumped-up charges, and subjected to unfair trials. As long as Uzbekistan uses torture-tainted evidence in court, it will remain a torture-tainted ally.”
    Torture endemic in Uzbekistan’s criminal justice system
    Amnesty International’s report is compiled from more than 60 interviews conducted between 2013-2015 and evidence gathered over 23 years. It lifts the lid on the use of sound-proof torture cells with padded walls used by the secret police, the Uzbekistani National Security Service (SNB), and documents the continued use of underground torture cells in police stations.
    The police and secret police use horrific techniques, including asphyxiation, rape, electric shocks, exposure to extreme heat and cold, and deprivation of sleep, food and water. The report also documents elaborate, prolonged beatings delivered by groups of people, including other prisoners.
    One man, who was never told the reason for his arrest, described what happened after he was taken to the basement of a police station in the early hours of the morning:
    “I was in handcuffs with my hands behind my back … There were two police officers beating me, kicking me, using batons, I lost consciousness. They beat me everywhere, on my head, kidneys… When I lost consciousness they would throw water on me to wake me up and beat me again.”
    Security forces targeting entire families
    The report documents widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment, with victims including government critics, religious groups, migrant workers and business people. The authorities sometimes also target victims’ extended families.
    Zuhra, a former detainee, told Amnesty International how security forces targeted her entire family, most of whom remain in detention today. She was regularly called to report to the local police station, where she was detained and beaten to punish her for being a member of an “extremist family” and force her to reveal the whereabouts of male relatives, or to incriminate them. She said:
    “There is no peace in our house. We wake up in the morning and if there is a car in front of our door, our hearts beat faster… There are no men left in our house. There are not even any grandchildren left.”
    Arbitrary brutality in an unaccountable justice system
    New testimony received by Amnesty International exposes the institutionalized use of torture and other ill-treatment to elicit confessions and incriminating evidence about other suspects.
    People are often tried using evidence extracted from torture. Judges extort bribes for lenient sentencing and the police and secret police use the threat of torture to demand huge bribes from detainees and prisoners.
    Turkish businessman, Vahit Güneş, was accused of economic crimes including tax evasion and connection to a banned Islamic movement, charges which he denies. He was held for 10 months in secret police detention, where he says he was tortured until he signed a false confession. He was tortured again when the secret police wanted to extort several million US dollars from his family in exchange for his release.
    The response he received when he asked for a lawyer illustrates the unfair and arbitrary nature of Uzbekistan’s justice system:
    “One of the prosecutors said: ‘Vahit Güneş pull yourself together. In the whole history of the SNB no one has been brought here and found innocent and released. Everyone who is brought here is found guilty. They have to plead guilty.’”
    Vahit Güneş described the dehumanizing conditions, psychological intimidation, beatings and sexual humiliation of detention:
    “You are not a human being anymore. They give you a number there. Your name is not valid there anymore. For instance my number was 79. I was not Vahit Güneş there anymore, I was 79. You are not a human being. You have become a number.”
    “You are not a human being anymore. They give you a number there. Your name is not valid there anymore. For instance my number was 79. I was not Vahit Güneş there anymore, I was 79. You are not a human being. You have become a number.”
    Vahit Güneş, torture survivor
    Torture continues unabated and unpunished since 1992
    Although torture is against the law in Uzbekistan, it is rarely punished. Even the government’s own figures show the scale of impunity for torture, with only 11 police officers convicted under Uzbekistani law from 2010-2013.
    During this time 336 complaints of torture were officially registered, of which just 23 cases were prosecuted and six taken to trial. To make matters worse, the authorities charged with investigating those complaints are often the same ones accused of torture, severely limiting the likelihood that victims will ever receive justice and reparations.
    Amnesty International is calling on President Islam Karimov to publically condemn the use of torture. The authorities should also establish an independent system for inspections of all detention centres and ensure that confessions and other evidence obtained by torture or other ill-treatment are never used in court.
    This report is the fourth in a series of five different country reports, after Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines, to be released as part of Amnesty International’s global Stop Torture campaign, launched by Amnesty International in May 2014. In the past five years alone, Amnesty International has reported on torture and other ill-treatment in 141 countries.
    15 April 2015, 11:00 UTC
    Find this story at 15 April 2015
    Find the report here
    Copyright Amnesty International

    US and EU Accused of Turning a Blind Eye to ‘Rampant Torture’ in Uzbekistan

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    Four men broke into Yusuf’s apartment in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in July 2009 and started beating him, before putting him in handcuffs and taking him to the local police station. Yusuf says this was not the first time he was attacked and detained, but on this occasion he was questioned by officers for three days, who took a long baton to his head and used a plastic bag to suffocate him.
    He refused to sign a confession saying that he’d plotted to overthrow Uzbekistan’s constitutional order, but was ultimately convicted in court on drug charges and slapped with a fine.
    Yusuf’s story of torture and abuse at the hands of Uzbek authorities is just one of 60 testimonies compiled in a damning report out on Wednesday from Amnesty International alleging that “rampant torture” is an integral part of the justice system in the Central Asian country.
    The organization slammed the US and European Union (EU), claiming they are turning a blind eye to “endemic torture” in Uzbekistan — pinning this ambivalence on the country’s role as an ally in the War on Terror.
    “Uzbekistani people are routinely and systematically tortured there, it’s a regime that uses torture flat out, straight up, with no nuance,” Julia Hall, Amnesty’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, who led the two year investigation, told VICE News.
    Related: The toxic Uzbek town and its museum of banned Soviet art. Read more here.
    Beatings, asphyxiation, needles inserted under finger or toenails, electric shocks, and rape are some of the torture techniques allegedly employed by President Islam Karimov’s regime that were highlighted by the human rights organization. The head of state has been in power since 1990, months before the country — which shares its southern border with Afghanistan — declared its independence from the Soviet Union.
    Authorities also reportedly use various psychological approaches, including intimidating detainees awaiting charges in detention centers with dogs. A letter given to Amnesty last year describes one inmate’s torture experience after being beaten in his kidneys, legs, and face.
    “I was in such pain, I was cold and naked, I thought I would not survive. On the third day, when I asked one of the officers to give me something to drink, he marched me from the basement [to the courtyard], tied me to a dog kennel, pointed to the dog’s feeding bowl and said: ‘If you want to eat and drink, help yourself,'” the letter reads. “He left me tied to the kennel. I stand, next to me sits a hound and every time I move it starts barking, so that I don’t dare move.”
    Uzbekistan has long been criticized for its human rights abuses, with Human Rights Watch calling the country’s record “atrocious.” Hall told VICE News that anyone who criticizes the government becomes a target. Free speech is heavily curtailed, with activists and journalists often caught in up in the mix. Muhammad Bekzhanov, the editor-in-chief of an opposition party newspaper, has been in prison since 1999, making him one of the longest-imprisoned journalists globally.
    While accusations against Karimov’s regime are nothing new, Hall said that the boost to global anti-terrorism efforts has given it a new feel. According to her, human rights abuses and the crackdown on people in Uzbekistan has been severe in the past few years, as Muslims and others have been labeled terrorists and subsequently targeted.
    Related: Reporters without borders unblocks censored news sites. Read more here.
    “It was kind of under a new frame after 9/11, governments like Uzbekistan in Central Asia, and governments all over the world could invoke national security at rogue under the veil of terrorism,” Hall added. “Other governments saw Uzbekistan as an ally in the War on Terror, and were less inclined to criticize the Uzbek government for human rights violations.”
    In the last decade, a series of countries around the world have lifted a series of sanctions against the regime. After the 2005 Andijan Massacre — during which authorities killed hundreds of protesters — the EU imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan, including bans on arms sales and travel. These measures, however, were pulled in 2008 and 2009.
    A 2004 US ban on military aid was revoked in 2012. Up until 2005 the US maintained a base near the country’s border with Afghanistan. The Tashkent regime pulled the plug in 2005, but allows the government to move goods for humanitarian purposes through Uzbekistan.
    The US State Department qualifies Uzbekistan as an authoritarian state, outlining human rights problems in a 2013 report, listing issues including torture, harassment of religious minorities, and denial of due process or a fair trial. The report also highlights violence against women, prolonged detentions, and life-threatening prison conditions.
    According to Hall, foreign governments have been cautious in their approach to Uzbekistan, in what she said is an attempt to keep the country on their side, especially as it will be a key ally as the war in Afghanistan appears to come to a close.
    At the same time, Uzbekistan has cracked down in the face of the Islamic State’s violent campaign in Iraq and Syria. While no official estimates exist for the number of Uzbek fighters in the group’s self-declared caliphate, the government — along with others in Central Asia — recently raised concerns about the threat of the group entering the country. Plus, as Hall notes, the country’s citizens have a history of traveling to foreign wars, like in the case of Bosnia and Chechnya.
    “It’s not a new phenomenon, but the rise of the Islamic State is a new threat,” she explained. “[But] we weren’t really looking at armed groups trying to establish a caliph, so you’re looking at something quite different in ISIS. The threat is real but there is no threat that can ever justify torture.”
    Moving forward, Amnesty is asking Karimov to condemn the use of torture. The rights group is also asking the US and EU member countries to bring human rights and torture into discussions with officials. Hill noted that the United Nations is also in the country.
    “We have asked them to make sure in every meeting they have with Uzbek authorities that human rights are on the table, we’re not even sure human rights are on the agenda,” She said. “They cannot go into total isolation, they are part of international community, but the reality is there is no pressure to clean up.”
    By Kayla Ruble
    April 16, 2015 | 2:05 pm
    Find this story at 16 April 2015
    Copyright https://news.vice.com/

    New information on undercover policing networks obtained by German parliamentary deputies

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    New information on the 2014 activities of European police cooperation groups and networks has been published by the German government (pdf), in response to questions from Die Linke parliamentary deputies. The answers include information on the work of Europe’s secretive undercover policing coordination networks. However, the government claims – as it has done in the past – that many of the questions cannot be answered publicly, due to the need for confidentiality.
    The questions concern a number of groups and networks, including:

    The European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities (ECG);
    The International Working Group on Police Undercover Activities (IWG);
    The Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW);
    The International Specialist Law Enforcement (ISLE) project;
    Europol’s ‘Focal Point Dolphin’.
    European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities (ECG)

    The ECG was established in 2001 and deals with: “The promotion of international cooperation by law enforcement agencies at the European level with respect to the deployment of undercover investigators to combat organised crime.” [1]

    However, the German government has previously referred to “politically motivated” crime as one of the “main issues” looked at by the group, [2] and has admitted that the work of the exposed police spy Mark Kennedy has been discussed at its meetings.

    The extent to which the ECG is involved in coordinating or directing police infilitration of protest movements across Europe is unknown, although a number of the British undercover police exposed in recent years are known to have travelled abroad frequently. German officers have also been sent abroad on a number of occasions. [3] Attempts by a number of women to obtain justice after being deceived into spending years in relationships with undercover police officers are ongoing. [4]

    According to the German government, the ECG met in Bucharest from 20 to 23 May, and the group’s third workshop on “Undercover on the Internet” was held in Marburg from 6 to 9 October.

    The list of attendees is lengthy. At the main ECG meeting, there were representatives present from 22 EU Member States:

    Austria (Federal Criminal Police Office, Vienna)
    Belgium (Federal Police)
    Bulgaria (Government Agency for National Security)
    Croatia (Criminal Police Directorate)
    Czech Republic (Czech National Police)
    Denmark (Danish National Police)
    Estonia (Central Criminal Police)
    Finland (National Bureau of Investigation)
    France (Central Directorate of Criminal Investigation Department)
    Germany (Federal Criminal Police Office, Central Office of the German Customs Investigation Service)
    Hungary (Hungarian National Police and Hungarian Customs)
    Italy (Carabinieri)
    Latvia (Criminal Police Department)
    Lithuania (Criminal Police Bureau)
    Netherlands (National Police Agency)
    Poland (Polish National Police)
    Portugal (Policia Judiciária)
    Romania (Romanian National Police)
    Slovakia (Slovakian National Police)
    Slovenia (General Police Directorate)
    Spain (Spanish National Police)
    United Kingdom (National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police)
    And six non-EU states:

    Albania (Central Criminal Police)
    Macedonia (Office of Public Security)
    Norway (Oslo Police Department)
    Russia (Federal Drugs Control Service)
    Switzerland (Federal Criminal Police)
    Turkey (National Police)
    At the October workshop the same organisations were present from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia and the UK. Also present were representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

    The content of the agendas has not been published by the German government. Its justification for the secrecy was lengthy:

    “The meetings dealt inter alia with tactical and operational measures in the context of undercover police investigations, for instance on the Internet. In addition to this, joint training measures in a particular area were discussed…

    “The said undercover measures are only used in areas of criminal activity in which a particularly high level of conspiracy, danger to the public and willingness to employ violence must be assumed.

    “…making public specific contents of discussions of certain operational resources conducted with foreign police authorities, as discussed in the meeting in question, would gravely undermine the trust and confidence of the international cooperation partners in the integrity of German police work and render significantly more difficult continued cooperation in the area of undercover policing.”

    The same justification was referred to in response to a wide number of other questions put forward by Hunko and his colleagues, and similar statements have been previously been put forward by the government in response to parliamentary questions on policing issues.

    International Working Group on Police Undercover Activities (IWG)

    The IWG was established in 1989 and its purpose has previously been described as “international exchange of experience on all matters related to the covert deployment of police officers.” 2014 saw the 45th meeting of the group, which took place from 21 to 24 October in Warsaw. Poland organised the meeting itself, but Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office prepared the invitations and agenda “in close consultation with the Member States.”

    The same organisations from the list above were present to represent Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Slovenia, and the UK. Also present were representatives from the Australian Federal Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    The IWG also has an International Business Secretariat (IBS), which has been the subject of previous parliamentary questions from Hunko and his colleagues.

    In 2014, the IBS held a meeting from 10 to 13 June in Oslo, with Norway organising the meeting and the UK preparing the invitations and agenda.

    Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office presented an agenda item on “biometrics” to the other delegations, who came from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

    Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW)

    The CSW was first convened in 2005. It appears to have been busier during 2014 than some of the other networks asked about by Die Linke deputies – a meeting of the CSW itself was held in Rome from 7 to 9 May, the steering group met on the 16 and 17 October in The Hague, and The Hague also played host to the ‘Assembly of Regional Groups on Surveillance’ (ARGOS), which was attended by CSW representatives. Italy organised the meeting in Rome, while the ARGOS conference was organised by Europol.

    The purpose of the meetings was “to enable the various mobile special mission units to exchange experiences and, building on this, the optimisation of cooperation during cross-border surveillance operations.”

    In response to questions about the CSW, the German made statements on the content of the agendas. The May meeting saw discussions on:

    The organisation of Italy’s R.O.S. Carabinieri force “and a case study of an abduction case”
    “Current status and outlook for the European Tracking System (ETS) and European Law”
    The European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS)
    “Presentation of the legal situation in Belgium and other Member States”
    “Use of different licence plates in the respective Member States”
    “Presentation of criminal activities and means of detection”
    “Police measures”
    “Air-based surveillance in the United Kingdom”
    “Challenges and opportunities arising from the use of technology in the fight against crime”
    “Legislative amendments and presentation of the organisation and deployment possibilities of the French police force”
    “Presentation of the different legal foundation and use of resources for the interception of private conversations in the participating countries”
    “Overview and presentation of an EU Framework Programme”
    The agenda for the ARGOS conference in November included:

    A presentation on the CSW
    “Presentation of a case study on cooperation in the field of surveillance (SENSEE)”
    The European Tracking System and European Law
    “Presentation of the Europol Liaison Officers ‘Working Group on Controlled Delivery'”
    “Presentation of the possible impacts of the European Investigation Order on cross-border surveillance” (the European Investigation Order was adopted in March 2014 and includes rules on cross-border covert investigations. [5])
    “Advantages of cross-departmental surveillance and administration”
    However, less detail was provided about the attendees, with the German government’s response stating:

    “The CSW meeting was attended by representatives of the mobile special mission units or comparable units from Belgium, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway and Germany (Federal Criminal Police Office). A representative of Europol also attended. The steering group meeting was attended by representatives from Germany (Federal Criminal Police Office), the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Europol. Representatives of 37 states attended the ARGOS conference.”

    International Specialist Law Enforcement

    As the IWG was meeting in Warsaw, organisations involved in the International Specialist Law Enforcement (ISLE) project were meeting in Rome, from 20 to 22 October. International Specialist Law Enforcement began life as an EU-funded project run by Belgium, Germany and the UK that sought to build “a network of [EU] Member State organisations that may develop coordination, cooperation and mutual understanding amongst law enforcement agencies using ‘specialist techniques’.” [6]

    Although it appeared in mid-2013 that the project might have been discontinued, [7] the German government’s answers show otherwise.

    The meeting was prepared, and the agenda drafted, by the German Federal Criminal Police Office and Europol. Including Germany, “members of mobile special mission units from 16 other EU Member States attended the ISLE meeting”.

    According to the German government, “the agenda included the following points”:

    “Future development of international cooperation in ISLE”
    “Discussion on the possibilities provided by the Europol Platform for Experts (EPE)”
    Workshops on using the EPE
    Expert Meeting Against Right Wing Extremism (EMRE)

    A meeting of the EU-funded EMRE project was held in Bonn, Germany, from 19 to 22 May, and was prepared by Germany’s BKA in cooperation with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Representatives from 25 EU Member States and Switzerland attended the event, which “centred around exchanging information on right-wing extremist and right-wing terrorist structures, right-wing events and Internet activities and their impact on the security situation in all European countries.”

    On the agenda was:

    “[A] lead-in presentation and presentations on the ‘Counter Terrorism Centre’ service unit in Hungary, a set of investigation files by the Czech Republic, the Joint Centre for Countering Right-Wing Extremism (Gemeinsames Abwehrzentrum Rechtsextremismus, GAR) by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the government exit programme for people seeking to leave the right-wing extremist scene in North Rhine-Westphalia.”

    The interest of the German authorities in addressing right-wing extremism is notable, given the well-documented failure to deal with a series of racist murders carried out by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground between 2000 and 2007. [8]

    Focal Point Dolphin and Europol’s data systems

    Europol’s Focal Point Dolphin is part of the agency’s ‘Analysis Work File’ on counter-terrorism, although it also contains information on political activism. [9]

    Two meetings were held during 2014 in relation to Dolphin, both at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague: one of the “target group BAZAAR” on 15 April, dealing with the financing of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party); and one from 12 to 14 November at a “Counter Terrorism Event”.

    The April meeting focused on “coordination and comparison of the information available in Europe on the financing of the PKK.” The agenda items for FP Dolphin at the Counter Terrorism Event were: “Overview, EIS [Europol Information System] in CT [counter-terrorism] work, ERWED/RWE Ukraine [RWE presumably stands for right-wing extremism], TG BAZAAR status and Ops MED status.”

    No German authorities attended the Counter Terrorism Event, but the Federal Criminal Police Office was present at the April meeting alongside representatives from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Europol.

    During 2014, the German government “made 24 data deliveries” to FP Dolphin, a minute amount compared to the overall number of German entries into the Europol Information System. As of 4 October 2012, Germany was responsible for 24,199 items in the EIS; on 18 October 2013, 36,047 items; and 30 September 2014, 49,449 items.

    According to the government’s response, “Germany is the second most frequent user of EIS,” and “conducted a total of 20,331 searches in the EIS in Q4 [fourth quarter] 2014.”

    The EIS contained entries on a total of 259,359 objects and people, although it is not clear what point in time this number relates to. The data in the system “is used mainly in the following areas of Europol’s mandate: drugs trafficking (28%), theft (19%), illegal immigration (11%), counterfeiting (8%) and fraud (6%).”

    The full response from the German government also contains responses to questions on the 2014 activities of:

    the ‘TC LI Group’ of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute;
    the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC);
    “the platform for police from South East Europe ‘Police Equal Performance’ (PEP)”;
    “twinning projects” between German authorities and other states;
    the Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation (BSRBCC);
    agreements and cooperation between Europol and non-EU states and organisations;
    agreements and cooperation between Frontex and non-EU states and organisations;
    the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (INTCEN);
    EU training for police due to serve abroad in “crisis management” missions;
    meetings of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
    the Police Working Group on Terrorism (PWGT);
    the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF); and
    the European Expert Network on Terrorism Issues (EENeT).
    Some significant information has come to light in recent years on undercover policing and the infilitration of protest movements. However, much remains unknown. The release of new information such as that obtained through the German Bundestag makes it possible to put together a picture of cross-border networks and their activities, but understanding in more detail their work – and holding state authorities to account for their actions – is far more difficult.

    In the UK, the police appear to have tried to ‘move on’ from the scandal by renaming and re-organising undercover policing units, most recently establishing the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit. [10] Keeping track of the organisations, individuals and institutions involved – and what is known of their activities – can help to make clear the wider picture and what can be done about it.


    Statewatch tracks developments in undercover policing; numerous articles can be found in our database
    The Undercover Research Group recently published webpages containing further information on numerous aspects of the police infilitration of political movements in Europe, and will at some point launch a Wikipedia-style website on the issue
    The Guardian’s Undercover blog has regular updates on developments, mainly focusing on the UK
    The Bristling Badger blog frequently contains forensic examinations of issues related to the undercover policing scandal

    Minor Interpellation submitted by Member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko and others and the Left Party parliamentary group, ‘Cooperation and projects by European police forces in 2014’, January 2015

    [1] ‘Another secretive European police working group revealed as governments remain tight-lipped on other police networks and the activities of Mark Kennedy’, Statewatch News Online, August 2012
    [2] ‘State guidelines for the exchange of undercover police officers revealed’, Statewatch News Online, May 2013
    [3] Matthias Monroy, ‘Using false documents against “Euro-anarchists”: the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations’, Statewatch Journal, vol 21 no 2, April-June 2011
    [4] Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance; Police Spies Out of Lives
    [5] Council of the European Union, ‘Council adopts the “European Investigation Order” directive’, press release, 14 March 2014 (pdf); European Investigation Order (pdf)
    [6] ‘Another secretive European police working group revealed as governments remain tight-lipped on other police networks and the activities of Mark Kennedy’, Statewatch News Online, August 2012
    [7] ‘Uncertain future for EU-funded police project aimed at enhancing covert surveillance techniques’, Statewatch News Online, July 2013
    [8] ‘NSU Crime Spree Report Finds ‘Devastating’ Errors’, Spiegel Online, 23 August 2013
    [9] Andrej Hunko, ‘Abolish international databases on anarchy!’, press release, 5 June 2012
    [10] ‘Political Secret Police Units’, Bristling Badger, 5 February 2014


    Find this story at 20 February 2015

    © Statewatch

    OSZE in der Ukraine-Krise Friedensstifter im Kreuzfeuer

    Die Geiselnahme der OSZE-Militärbeobachter ist vorbei, die Debatte geht erst richtig los: CSU-Vize Gauweiler übt heftige Kritik, Verteidigungsministerin von der Leyen will den Einsatz überprüfen lassen. Und dann ist da noch der Vorwurf der Spionage, der die OSZE zu beschädigen droht.

    Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel hat am Sonntag den Telefonhörer in die Hand genommen. Am anderen Ende der Leitung: Wladimir Putin, der russische Präsident. Es war das erste Gespräch der beiden nach der Freilassung der OSZE-Militärbeobachter, die nach acht Tagen in der Gefangenschaft prorussischer Separatisten am Samstag freigekommen und nach Berlin ausgeflogen worden waren.

    Darüber habe sich Merkel am Telefon “erleichtert” gezeigt, teilte die Bundesregierung mit. Der Schwerpunkt des Gesprächs sei aber ein anderer gewesen: Die Kanzlerin habe mit Putin vor allem über den Besuch von Didier Burkhalter beim russischen Präsidenten am Mittwoch geredet.

    Welche Rolle spielt die OSZE?
    Burkhalter ist Bundespräsident der Schweiz und amtierender Vorsitzender der OSZE, der Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa. Ihre Hauptaufgabe: Frieden sichern. Die Ukraine, Russland und 55 weitere Staaten sind Mitglieder dieser Konferenz, die 1975 mit der Schlussakte von Helsinki unter dem Namen KSZE gegründet wurde und sich immer als blockübergreifend betrachtet hat. Damit ist sie – eigentlich – gut geeignet, um in der Ukraine-Krise zu vermitteln, in der es auch um die russische Furcht vor einer Ausbreitung der Nato nach Osten geht.


    Doch die Vermittlung hat sich seit Beginn der Krise als schwierig erwiesen. Burkhalters Idee einer internationalen Kontaktgruppe wurde nie umgesetzt. Von Burkhalters “persönlichem Gesandten” für die Ukraine, Tim Guldimann, ist wenig zu hören. Ein Mitte April zwischen der Ukraine, Russland, USA und EU vereinbartes Genfer Abkommen wird von Moskau als gescheitert betrachtet. In ihm war die Entwaffnung illegaler Kräfte und ein Gewaltverzicht vereinbart worden. Beides lässt auf sich warten, weshalb Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier nun ein zweites Treffen in Genf fordert. Burkhalter hingegen will “runde Tische” etablieren, um die Präsidentschaftswahl in der Ukraine am 25. Mai vorzubereiten.

    Nato-Spione unter dem Deckmantel der OSZE?
    Vor allem in Deutschland wird die Arbeit der OSZE überlagert von der Debatte um die Geiselnahme in Slawjansk. Dort, im Osten der Ukraine, waren am 25. April die Militärbeobachter – darunter vier Deutsche – von prorussischen Separatisten entführt worden. Der Anführer der Separatisten, Wjatscheslaw Ponomarjow, rechtfertigte die Entführung mit dem Vorwurf, die Beobachter seien Spione der Nato.

    Seitdem tobt in der Politik, aber auch in Medien und Leserkommentarspalten, ein zum Teil erbitterter Streit über mehrere Punkte: Welche Rolle spielte die OSZE? Warum fuhren die Beobachter nach Slawjansk? Und, neuerdings: Warum war der deutsche Leiter der Gruppe, Axel Schneider, seinem Geiselnehmer gegenüber so höflich? Aber der Reihe nach.

    Direkt nach der Geiselnahme hatte Claus Neukirch, Sprecher der Organisation, im österreichischen Fernsehen erklärt: “Ich muss sagen, dass es sich im Grunde genommen nicht um Mitarbeiter der OSZE handelt.” Diese Passage wird seitdem immer wieder als Beweis dafür angeführt, dass es sich bei den Geiseln tatsächlich um Spione handle. Dabei sagte Neukirch auch: “Es sind Militärbeobachter, die dort bilateral unter einem OSZE-Dokument tätig sind.”

    Dieses “Wiener Dokument 2011” (hier als PDF) erlaubt es jedem der 57 OSZE-Mitgliedsländer, andere Länder um die Entsendung von Militärbeobachtern zu bitten, um “ungewöhnliche militärische Vorgänge” zu untersuchen. Genau das ist passiert. Die Ukraine berief sich darauf.

    Nach den gescheiterten Einsätzen auf der Krim gemäß Kapitel III des Dokuments (Verminderung der Risiken) bat Kiew um weitere Missionen gemäß der Kapitel IX (Einhaltung und Verifikation) und insbesondere Kapitel X (Regionale Maßnahmen), in dem es heißt: “Die Teilnehmerstaaten werden ermutigt, unter anderem auf der Grundlage von Sondervereinbarungen in bilateralem, multilateralem oder regionalem Zusammenhang Maßnahmen zur Steigerung der Transparenz und des Vertrauens zu ergreifen.” Diese Maßnahmen könnten angepasst und im regionalen Zusammenhang angewendet werden.

    Auf dieser Basis wurden in der Ukraine bislang nacheinander fünf multinationale Teams von jeweils etwa acht Militärbeobachtern aktiv. Die erste Mission begann Ende März unter dänischer Leitung, dann übernahm Polen als “Lead Nation”, gefolgt von den Niederlanden und schließlich Deutschland. Inzwischen ist eine neunköpfige Gruppe aktiv, die von Kanada geführt wird. Weitere Team-Mitglieder kommen aus Frankreich, Moldawien, den USA und der Ukraine selbst.

    Die OSZE listet die Mission auf ihrer Website unter dem Titel “Verschiedene Formen des OSZE-Engagements mit der Ukraine” auf. Ein OSZE-Twitterkanal sprach am Sonntag von einer “OSZE-Militärverifikationsmission”.

    Der Vorwurf, das Team habe nichts mit der OSZE zu tun gehabt, ist also haltlos. Was die Spionage betrifft: Während der Dolmetscher vom Bundessprachenamt in Hürth kommt, gehören die drei Soldaten dem Zentrum für Verifikationsaufgaben der Bundeswehr (ZVBw) im nordrhein-westfälischen Geilenkirchen an. Dort gibt es nach SZ-Informationen zwar auch eine geheime Außenstelle des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND). Doch keiner der Männer war für den Geheimdienst – oder sein militärisches Pendant, den Militärischen Abschirmdienst – tätig. Der BND berät deutsche OSZE-Beobachter allerdings vor ihren Einsätzen. Auch wenn die OSZE-Beobachter also selbst keine Spione sind, zu tun haben sie mit ihnen allemal.

    Warum gerade Slawjansk? Von der Leyen verspricht Prüfung
    Wie das deutsche Verteidigungsministerium erklärte, besuchen OSZE-Militärbeobachter, die über Diplomatenstatus verfügen, Orte auf Empfehlung des Gastgebers. Wohin sie fahren, entscheidet letztlich der jeweilige Leiter der Mission. Warum Oberst Axel Schneider das Risiko einging, sich in unmittelbare Nähe der Separatisten zu begeben, ist unklar – und ein Streitpunkt in Berlin, über die politischen Lager hinweg.

    Der SPD-Verteidigungsexperte Lars Klingbeil fordert in der Bild-Zeitung Aufklärung darüber, ob die Militärbeobachter wirklich die Aufgabe hatten, nach Slawjansk zu fahren. Die Bundesregierung habe das bislang “nicht plausibel erklären können”, kritisiert etwa die Vorsitzende der Linkspartei, Katja Kipping, im Gespräch mit der Zeitung Die Welt.

    Außenminister Steinmeier verteidigte hingegen die Mission: Sie habe wertvolle Hinweise geliefert. Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen kündigte an, den Einsatz überprüfen zu wollen. Sie sagte aber auch: “Wir lassen uns nicht einschüchtern.”

    Der Verteidigungsexperte der Grünen im Bundestag, Omid Nouripour, sagte SZ.de, er sei für die Überprüfung des Einsatzes. “Aber wir dürfen jetzt nicht eine Diskussion anzetteln, die am Ende dazu führt, dass sich Deutschland nicht mehr beteiligt an einem jahrzehntelang bewährtem Instrumentarium.” Die OSZE-Mission sei “in vollem Wissen Russlands” absolviert worden. “Das Instrument ist ein Gutes.”

    Warum so höflich dem Geiselnehmer gegenüber? Alle gegen Gauweiler
    Als der selbsternannte Bürgermeister von Slawjansk, Ponomarjow, am 27. April seine Geiseln der Weltpresse vorführte, bedankte sich Oberst Schneider bei ihm und gab ihm die Hand. Der CSU-Bundestagsabgeordnete Peter Gauweiler hat das im Spiegel kritisiert: “Der ganze Vorgang macht auch für die Bundeswehr einen unguten Eindruck.” Deutschland habe sich “in dieser plumpen Weise noch tiefer in den Konflikt hineinziehen” lassen.

    Nun hagelt es wiederum Kritik an Gauweiler. Der CDU-Europaabgeordnete Elmar Brok nannte dessen Äußerungen “komplett unverständlich”. Der Parlamentarische Geschäftsführer der CSU-Landesgruppe, Max Straubinger, sprach von einer “ziemlichen Frechheit, vom gemütlichen Schreibtisch in München aus das Verhalten deutscher Soldaten in Geiselhaft zu maßregeln”.

    Und auch der Grüne Nouripour reagiert mit Unverständnis auf Gauweiler: Was er von Oberst Schneider auf der Pressekonferenz gesehen habe, sei konfliktentschärfend gewesen und damit “vorbildlich.”

    OSZE-Militärbeobachter werden vor ihrem Einsatz in Konfliktbewältigung geschult. Vermutlich hat Schneider also nur umgesetzt, was er gelernt hat.

    5. Mai 2014 13:46
    Von Michael König und Markus C. Schulte von Drach

    Find this story at 5 May 2014

    Copyright © Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH

    Todesschüsse in Kiew+ Wer ist für das Blutbad vom Maidan verantwortlich

    Georg Restle: „Die Krise in der Ukraine ist noch lange nicht vorbei. Dies haben uns die Bilder aus dem Osten des Landes von dieser Woche gelehrt. Und auch die Propagandaschlacht geht weiter. Eine der zentralen Fragen ist dabei, wer ist verantwortlich für das Blutbad, dem im Februar Dutzende Demonstranten und Polizisten zum Opfer fielen, und das schließlich zum Sturz des Präsidenten Janukowitsch führte? Wer also waren die Todesschützen auf dem Kiewer Maidan? Die vom Westen unterstützte Übergangsregierung hat sich letzte Woche festgelegt: Präsident Janukowitsch und seine Sonderkommandos tragen demnach allein die Schuld für die Toten. Doch an dieser Version gibt es jetzt erhebliche Zweifel, wie die Recherchen von Philipp Jahn, Olga Sviridenko und Stephan Stuchlik zeigen.”

    Was geschah am 20. Februar 2014 in Kiew? Aufgeheizte Stimmung, aus den ursprünglich friedlichen Demonstrationen ist ein Bürgerkrieg geworden. Teile der Demonstranten haben sich bewaffnet, rücken in Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. In einzelnen Trupps versuchen die Demonstranten, auf die Instituts-Straße zu gelangen. Der blutige Donnerstag: Einzeln werden Demonstranten erschossen, viele von den Dächern umliegender Gebäude. Aber wer genau waren diese Scharfschützen, die auf die Demonstranten schossen?

    Diese Frage beschäftigt die Kiewer bis heute, zu Hunderten kommen sie täglich an den Platz des Massakers.

    Als wir ankommen, sechs Wochen danach, ist anscheinend noch nicht einmal die grundsätzliche Beweisaufnahme abgeschlossen. Sergeij, ein Waffenexperte, ist einer der vielen unabhängigen Ermittler, die eng mit der Staatsanwaltschaft zusammenarbeiten und die Ermittlungen in Gang halten. Vor unseren Augen sichert er noch Patronenhülsen. Danach alarmiert er die staatlichen Ermittler, die den Ort nach eigener Aussage schon gründlich untersucht haben. Erstaunlich, während sie noch arbeiten, hat sich ihre vorgesetzte Behörde in einer Pressekonferenz schon festgelegt, wer die Schuldigen sind.

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Mit dem heutigen Tag klagt die Staatsanwaltschaft 12 Mitglieder der Spezialeinheit Berkut des Mordes an friedlichen Demonstranten an. Der damalige Präsident Janukowitsch befehligte direkt diese Spezialeinheit Berkut.“

    Die neue Regierung sagt also, die alte Regierung Janukowitsch wäre für das Blutbad verantwortlich.

    Doch was geschah wirklich am 20 Februar? Fest steht, die Demonstranten rückten auf der Institutsstraße Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. Von gegenüber gerieten sie unter Feuer, vom Dach des Ministerkabinetts, der Zentralbank und weiteren Regierungsgebäuden. Doch schon früh gab es Hinweise, dass sie auch im Rücken getroffen wurden, von ihrer eigenen Zentrale aus, vom Hotel Ukraina.

    Aber welche Beweise gibt es dafür? Zum einen ist da dieses Video, das augenscheinlich beweist, dass der Oppositionelle mit dem Metallschild von hinten getroffen wird. Der Mann in Gelb auf dieser Aufnahme geht sogar noch weiter. Er gehörte zu den Demonstranten, war an diesem Tag stundenlang auf der Institutsstraße. Er heißt Mikola, wir treffen uns mit ihm am Ort des Geschehens. Er sagt uns, es wurde sogar mehrfach in den Rücken der Opposition geschossen.

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, am zwanzigsten wurden wir von hinten beschossen, vom Hotel Ukraina, vom 8. oder 9. Stock aus.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von der achten oder neunten Etage?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, auf jeden Fall fast von ganz oben.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von da oben?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, da standen Leute oben und haben geschossen und aus der anderen Richtung hier wurden wir auch beschossen.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Und wer hat von oben geschossen?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das weiß ich nicht.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie eine Ahnung?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das waren Söldner, auf jeden Fall Profis.“

    Das Ukraina-Hotel hier war das damalige Zentrum der Demonstranten. Hat sich der Augenzeuge geirrt? Wir sind nachts unterwegs mit Ermittler Sergej. Er zeigt uns mit einem Laser, dass es nicht nur Schusskanäle aus Richtung der Regierungsgebäude gibt. Einige Kanäle in den Bäumen deuten in die entgegengesetzte Richtung, wenn man durch Austrittsloch und Einschussloch leuchtet, oben ins Hotel Ukraina, damals die Zentrale der Opposition. Das aber passt schlecht zur Version des Generalstaatsanwalts, der uns nach Tagen Überzeugungsarbeit endlich empfängt. Er ist von der neuen Regierung eingesetzt, gehört dem rechtsnationalen Flügel der damaligen Opposition an, der umstrittenen Svobóda-Partei.

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir können wirklich heute schon sagen, nach allen Beweismitteln und Expertisen, die wir in der Hand haben, wer prinzipiell Schuld an den Sniper-Attacken ist: der damalige Präsident Viktor Janukowitsch, der ehemalige Verwaltungschef und der ehemalige Innenminister Sacharchenko.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Sie wissen auch, dass es Sniper vom Hotel Ukraina gab?“

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir untersuchen das.“

    Die Scharfschützen also alles Janukowitsch-Leute? Es gibt noch weitere Beweise, die diese These in Frage stellen. Wir treffen uns mit einem Radio-Amateur, der an diesem Tag aufgezeichnet hat, wie sich Janukowitsch-Scharfschützen untereinander unterhalten. Ihr Funkverkehr beweist: Da schießt jemand auf Unbewaffnete, jemand den sie nicht kennen.

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „He, Leute, ihr da drüben, rechts vom Hotel Ukraina.“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wer hat da geschossen? Unsere Leute schießen nicht auf Unbewaffnete.“

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Jungs, da sitzt ein Spotter, der zielt auf mich. Auf wen zielt der von der Ecke. Guckt mal!“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Auf dem Dach vom gelben Gebäude. Auf dem Kino, auf dem Kino.“

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Den hat jemand erschossen. Aber nicht wir.“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Miron, Miron, gibt es da noch mehr Scharfschützen? Und wer sind die?“

    Wir halten fest: Es gab neben den Regierungs-Scharfschützen also noch andere unbekannte Schützen, die auf unbewaffnete Demonstranten geschossen haben. Und, wer immer vom Hotel Ukraina schießt, hat – so legt dieses Video nahe – auch diese Milizionäre getroffen. Dass Janukowitsch auf die eigenen Leute hat schießen lassen, ist unwahrscheinlich.

    Gab es also Scharfschützen der damaligen Opposition? Fest steht, es gab neben den vielen friedlichen Demonstranten durchaus eine Gruppe Radikaler mit professionellen Waffen, wie diese Aufnahmen zeigen.

    Und, das Hotel am Morgen des 20. Februar war fest in der Hand der Opposition. Wir sprechen mit Augenzeugen aus dem Hotel Ukraina, Journalisten, Oppositionelle. Sie alle bestätigen uns, am 20. Februar war das Hotel von der Opposition schwer bewacht. Es hätte sich also schwerlich ein Scharfschütze der Regierung einschleichen können.

    Haben also radikale Oppositionelle am Ende selbst geschossen, um Chaos zu erzeugen? Um Janukowitsch die Schuld anzuhängen? Die russischen Fernsehsender verbreiten Bilder, auf denen genau das zu sehen sein soll. Unsere Recherchen bestätigen, dass die Aufnahmen tatsächlich im Hotel Ukraina gemacht wurden. Aber wer da genau auf wen schießt, lässt sich nicht endgültig klären.

    Fest steht nur, es wurde nicht nur auf Oppositionelle, sondern auch auf die Milizen der Regierung geschossen. Vielleicht sogar von denselben Leuten? Wir treffen einen der wenigen Ärzte, der die Verwundeten beider Seiten versorgt hat.

    Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Die Verwundeten, die wir behandelt haben, hatten denselben Typ Schussverletzungen, ich spreche jetzt von dem Typ Kugeln, die wir aus den Körpern herausoperiert haben, die waren identisch. Mehr kann ich nicht sagen.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Aber die haben Sie…“

    Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Bei der Miliz und bei der Opposition gefunden.“

    Warum geht die Staatsanwaltschaft solchen Fragen nicht nach? Der deutsche Außenminister und die Europäische Union haben bereits im Februar per Abkommen festgestellt, dass die Schuldfrage in der Ukraine ein politisch zentrales Thema sei, die Aufarbeitung sollte „ergebnisoffen“ sein, um das Vertrauen in die neue ukrainische Regierung zu stärken. Doch mittlerweile mehren sich die Zweifel, ob wirklich sachgerecht ermittelt wird, auch bei den eigenen Mitarbeitern. Wir sprechen mit einem hochrangigen Mitglied der Ermittlungskommission. Er erzählt uns Unglaubliches.

    Zitat: „Das, was mir an Ergebnissen meiner Untersuchung vorliegt, stimmt nicht mit dem überein, was die Staatsanwaltschaft erklärt.“

    Wurden also Beweismittel unterdrückt oder sogar unterschlagen? Auch die Rechtsanwälte, die die Angehörigen der Toten vertreten, alle eigentlich auf Seiten der neuen Regierung, beklagen sich, dass sie überhaupt nicht darüber informiert werden, womit genau sich die Staatsanwaltschaft beschäftige.

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir haben nicht gesagt bekommen, welcher Typ Waffen, wir bekommen keinen Zugang zu den Gutachten, wir bekommen die Einsatzpläne nicht. Die anderen Ermittlungsdokumente haben wir auch nicht, die Staatsanwaltschaft zeigt uns einfach keine Papiere.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie ballistische Gutachten?“

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Nein.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Rechtsmedizinische Gutachten?“

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ich durfte in den Obduktionsbericht reingucken, aber nicht kopieren, ballistische Gutachten habe ich nicht bekommen.“

    Ein Anwalt der Verletzten geht sogar noch weiter:

    Oleksandr Baschuk, Anwalt der Geschädigten (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir kommen alle an keine Ermittlungsprotokolle ran und wenn Sie mich fragen, gibt es dafür einen einfachen Grund, es wird nicht richtig ermittelt. Ich als Anwalt der Verletzten sage Ihnen, die Staatsanwaltschaft ermittelt nicht richtig, die decken ihre Leute, die sind parteiisch, so wie früher. Die wollen wie in der Sowjetunion oder unter Janukowitsch alles unter der Decke halten, so ist das.“

    Der blutige Donnerstag: Über 30 Menschen werden an diesem Tag in Kiew ermordet, ein Blutbad im Zentrum einer europäischen Großstadt. Unsere Recherchen zeigen, dass in Kiew schon Schuldige präsentiert werden, obwohl es auch zahlreiche Hinweise gibt, die in Richtung Opposition weisen. Spuren, die nicht verfolgt werden. Und möglicherweise gibt es auch noch andere Kräfte, die an den Schießereien beteiligt waren. Die Kiewer Generalstaatsanwaltschaft ist sich in ihrer Einschätzung sicher, wir sind es nicht.

    Georg Restle: „Bei allen offenen Fragen, dass ein Vertreter der nationalistischen Svoboda-Partei als Generalstaatsanwalt die Aufklärung des Kiewer Blutbads ganz offensichtlich behindert, wirft ein schlechtes Bild auf die neue Übergangsregierung – und damit auch auf all jene westlichen Regierungen, die die neuen Machthaber in Kiew unterstützen.“

    DasErste.de – Monitor –

    Find this story at 10 April 2014

    © WDR 2014

    It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war

    The attempt to lever Kiev into the western camp by ousting an elected leader made conflict certain. It could be a threat to us all

    ‘The reality is that after two decades of Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit … ‘ Illustration: Matt Kenyon
    The threat of war in Ukraine is growing. As the unelected government in Kiev declares itself unable to control the rebellion in the country’s east, John Kerry brands Russia a rogue state. The US and the European Union step up sanctions against the Kremlin, accusing it of destabilising Ukraine. The White House is reported to be set on a new cold war policy with the aim of turning Russia into a “pariah state”.

    That might be more explicable if what is going on in eastern Ukraine now were not the mirror image of what took place in Kiev a couple of months ago. Then, it was armed protesters in Maidan Square seizing government buildings and demanding a change of government and constitution. US and European leaders championed the “masked militants” and denounced the elected government for its crackdown, just as they now back the unelected government’s use of force against rebels occupying police stations and town halls in cities such as Slavyansk and Donetsk.

    “America is with you,” Senator John McCain told demonstrators then, standing shoulder to shoulder with the leader of the far-right Svoboda party as the US ambassador haggled with the state department over who would make up the new Ukrainian government.

    When the Ukrainian president was replaced by a US-selected administration, in an entirely unconstitutional takeover, politicians such as William Hague brazenly misled parliament about the legality of what had taken place: the imposition of a pro-western government on Russia’s most neuralgic and politically divided neighbour.

    Putin bit back, taking a leaf out of the US street-protest playbook – even though, as in Kiev, the protests that spread from Crimea to eastern Ukraine evidently have mass support. But what had been a glorious cry for freedom in Kiev became infiltration and insatiable aggression in Sevastopol and Luhansk.

    After Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, the bulk of the western media abandoned any hint of even-handed coverage. So Putin is now routinely compared to Hitler, while the role of the fascistic right on the streets and in the new Ukrainian regime has been airbrushed out of most reporting as Putinist propaganda.

    So you don’t hear much about the Ukrainian government’s veneration of wartime Nazi collaborators and pogromists, or the arson attacks on the homes and offices of elected communist leaders, or the integration of the extreme Right Sector into the national guard, while the anti-semitism and white supremacism of the government’s ultra-nationalists is assiduously played down, and false identifications of Russian special forces are relayed as fact.

    The reality is that, after two decades of eastward Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure, via an explicitly anti-Moscow EU association agreement. Its rejection led to the Maidan protests and the installation of an anti-Russian administration – rejected by half the country – that went on to sign the EU and International Monetary Fund agreements regardless.

    No Russian government could have acquiesced in such a threat from territory that was at the heart of both Russia and the Soviet Union. Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive, and the red line now drawn: the east of Ukraine, at least, is not going to be swallowed up by Nato or the EU.

    But the dangers are also multiplying. Ukraine has shown itself to be barely a functioning state: the former government was unable to clear Maidan, and the western-backed regime is “helpless” against the protests in the Soviet-nostalgic industrial east. For all the talk about the paramilitary “green men” (who turn out to be overwhelmingly Ukrainian), the rebellion also has strong social and democratic demands: who would argue against a referendum on autonomy and elected governors?

    Meanwhile, the US and its European allies impose sanctions and dictate terms to Russia and its proteges in Kiev, encouraging the military crackdown on protesters after visits from Joe Biden and the CIA director, John Brennan. But by what right is the US involved at all, incorporating under its strategic umbrella a state that has never been a member of Nato, and whose last elected government came to power on a platform of explicit neutrality? It has none, of course – which is why the Ukraine crisis is seen in such a different light across most of the world. There may be few global takers for Putin’s oligarchic conservatism and nationalism, but Russia’s counterweight to US imperial expansion is welcomed, from China to Brazil.

    In fact, one outcome of the crisis is likely to be a closer alliance between China and Russia, as the US continues its anti-Chinese “pivot” to Asia. And despite growing violence, the cost in lives of Russia’s arms-length involvement in Ukraine has so far been minimal compared with any significant western intervention you care to think of for decades.

    The risk of civil war is nevertheless growing, and with it the chances of outside powers being drawn into the conflict. Barack Obama has already sent token forces to eastern Europe and is under pressure, both from Republicans and Nato hawks such as Poland, to send many more. Both US and British troops are due to take part in Nato military exercises in Ukraine this summer.

    The US and EU have already overplayed their hand in Ukraine. Neither Russia nor the western powers may want to intervene directly, and the Ukrainian prime minister’s conjuring up of a third world war presumably isn’t authorised by his Washington sponsors. But a century after 1914, the risk of unintended consequences should be obvious enough – as the threat of a return of big-power conflict grows. Pressure for a negotiated end to the crisis is essential.

    Seumas Milne
    The Guardian, Wednesday 30 April 2014 21.01 BST

    Find this story at 30 April 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Bulgaria: Asylum Seekers Summarily Expelled Syrians, Others Forced Back Across Turkish Border

    Slamming the door on refugees is not the way to deal with an increase in people seeking protection. The right way, simply, is for Bulgarian authorities to examine asylum seekers’ claims and treat them decently.

    Bill Frelick, refugee rights program director
    (Sofia) – Bulgaria has embarked on a “Containment Plan” to reduce the number of asylum seekers in the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The plan has been carried out in part by summarily pushing back Syrians, Afghans, and others as they irregularly cross the border from Turkey.

    The 76-page report, “Containment Plan: Bulgaria’s Pushbacks and Detention of Syrian and other Asylum Seekers and Migrants,” documents how in recent months Bulgarian border police, often using excessive force, have summarily returned people who appear to be asylum seekers to Turkey. The people have been forced back across the border without proper procedures and with no opportunity to lodge asylum claims. Bulgaria should end summary expulsions at the Turkish border, stop the excessive use of force by border guards, and improve the treatment of detainees and conditions of detention in police stations and migrant detention centers.

    “Slamming the door on refugees is not the way to deal with an increase in people seeking protection,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights program director at Human Rights Watch. “The right way, simply, is for Bulgarian authorities to examine asylum seekers’ claims and treat them decently.”

    In recent times, Bulgaria has not been a host country for significant numbers of refugees. On average, Bulgaria registered about 1,000 asylum seekers per year in the past decade. That changed in 2013 when more than 11,000 people, over half of them fleeing Syria’s deadly repression and war, lodged asylum applications. Despite ample early warning signs, Bulgaria was unprepared for the increase. A February 5, 2014 report by the Interior Ministry said, “Until mid-2013 Bulgaria was completely unprepared for the forecasted refugee flow.”

    Human Rights Watch documented Bulgaria’s failure to provide new arrivals with basic humanitarian assistance in 2013, including adequate food and shelter at reception centers that often lacked heat, windows, and adequate plumbing. Human Rights Watch also found poor detention conditions and brutal treatment in detention centers; inadequacies in asylum procedures, including long delays in registering asylum claims; shortfalls in its treatment of unaccompanied migrant children, including failure to appoint legal guardians; and an absence of viable programs to support and integrate recognized refugees.

    On November 6, the Bulgarian government established a new policy to prevent irregular entry at the Turkish border. This “containment plan” entailed deploying an additional 1,500 police officers at the border, supplemented by a contingent of guest guards from other EU member states through the EU’s external border control agency, Frontex. Bulgaria also began building a fence along a 33-kilometer stretch of the Turkish border.

    Human Rights Watch interviewed 177 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in various locations in both Bulgaria and Turkey. Of these, 41 gave detailed accounts of 44 incidents involving at least 519 people in which Bulgarian border police apprehended and returned them to Turkey, in some instances using violence.

    “Abdullah,” an Afghan asylum seeker interviewed in Turkey in January 2014, said that the Bulgarian border police began beating him immediately after they caught him and a few others, and showed Human Rights Watch interviewers his scars.

    “After beating me, the police brought me over to their superior who pointed to his boot as if because of me his boot was dirty,” he said. “So he ordered the soldier to beat me. First, he beat me with his fist in my stomach and then with the butt of his gun on my back so I fell down, then he kicked my ribcage while I was lying down. One of my bones in my lower back is broken…. They kept beating my head and my back. First one soldier and then another. I tried to escape but they caught me and beat me even more. They even beat me as they were dragging me to the car. They put three of us on the back seat of the jeep. I wasn’t even thinking about pain, all I was worried about was my wife and child,” who had become separated from him as the police approached.

    Abdullah said that the police drove for about 30 to 45 minutes, stopped, and then started walking: “While we were walking he kept hitting me with his stick. The walk was about 200 meters and I was beaten all the way. When we reached the border, the soldier showed the direction to Turkey.”

    With the help of the European Union, the humanitarian situation in Bulgaria has improved in 2014, but this coincides with the pushback policy, a precipitous drop in arrivals of new asylum seekers, and a 27 percent decrease from the number of refugees the country was hosting in late 2013. The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against Bulgaria, calling on it to answer allegations that it broke EU rules by summarily returning Syrian refugees.

    “Reception conditions in Bulgaria have improved compared with the abysmal conditions we witnessed in late 2013,” Frelick said. “But these improvements are less impressive when seen in the context of Bulgaria’s efforts to prevent asylum seekers from lodging refugee claims, which violate the country’s refugee law obligations.”

    The Bulgarian Council of Ministers referred to their new policy as a “plan for the containment of the crisis.” But the migration “crisis” Bulgaria faced in 2013 should also be seen in context:In the first five weeks of 2014 – at a time when 99 asylum seekers succeeded in crossing from Turkey to Bulgaria – more than 20,000 Syrian refugees entered Turkey, the country to which Bulgaria was pushing back asylum seekers. Turkey is currently hosting more than 700,000 Syrians, according to UNHCR.

    “Bulgaria, of course, is faced with a humanitarian challenge and its capacity to meet that challenge is limited,” Frelick said. “Even with limited capacity, however, shoving people back over the border is no way to respect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.”

    APRIL 29, 2014

    Find this story at 29 April 2014

    © Copyright 2014, Human Rights Watch

    EU planning to ‘own and operate’ spy drones and an air force

    The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft as part of a new intelligence and security agency under the control of Baroness Ashton.

    The controversial proposals are a major move towards creating an independent EU military body with its own equipment and operations, and will be strongly opposed by Britain.

    Officials told the Daily Telegraph that the European Commission and Lady Ashton’s European External Action Service want to create military command and communication systems to be used by the EU for internal security and defence purposes. Under the proposals, purchasing plans will be drawn up by autumn.

    The use of the new spy drones and satellites for “internal and external security policies”, which will include police intelligence, the internet, protection of external borders and maritime surveillance, will raise concerns that the EU is creating its own version of the US National Security Agency.

    Senior European officials regard the plan as an urgent response to the recent scandal over American and British communications surveillance by creating EU’s own security and spying agency.

    “The Edward Snowden scandal shows us that Europe needs its own autonomous security capabilities, this proposal is one step further towards European defence integration,” said a senior EU official.

    The proposal said “the commission will work with the EEAS on a joint assessment of dual-use capability needs for EU security and defence policies”.

    It continued: “On the basis of this assessment, it will come up with a proposal for which capability needs, if any, could best be fulfilled by assets directly purchased, owned and operated by the Union.” A commission official confirmed the proposal.

    “Looking at the current gaps, possibilities could be from surveillance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to airlift and command and communication facilities,” said the official.

    There is a already an intense behind-the-scenes battle pitting London against the rest over plans to create an EU military operations headquarters in Brussels.

    Lady Ashton, the European foreign minister, the commission and France – backed by Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland – all support the plans. Both sets of proposals are likely to come to a head at an EU summit fight in December.

    “We would not support any activity that would mean the Commission owning or controlling specific defence research assets or capabilities,” said a British government spokesman.

    Britain has a veto but the group of countries have threatened to use a legal mechanism, created by the Lisbon Treaty, to bypass the British and create a major rift in Nato.

    Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Conservative European defence and security spokesman, accused the commission of being “obsessed” with promoting the “EU’s military ambitions”.

    “It would be alarming if the EU – opaque, unaccountable, bureaucratic and desperately trying to turn itself into a federal state – were to try and create an intelligence gathering capability of its own. This is something that we need to stop in its tracks before it is too late,” he said.

    Nigel Farage MEP, the leader of Ukip, described the plans for EU spy drones and satellites as “a deeply sinister development”.

    “These are very scary people, and these revelations should give any lover of liberty pause for thought over the ambitions of the EU elite.”

    The Open Europe think tank has warned that the EU “has absolutely no democratic mandate for actively controlling and operating military and security capabilities”.

    “The fact is European countries have different views on defence and this is best served by intergovernmental cooperation, not by European Commission attempts at nation-building,” said Pawel Swidlicki, a research analyst at Open Europe.

    The spy drones and secure command systems would be linked to a £3.5 billion spy satellite project known as Copernicus which will be used to provide “imaging capabilities to support Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations”. Currently Copernicus is due to be operated by the European Space Agency.

    It is part of the Sentinel system of satellites, which is costing British taxpayers £434 million. Previously known as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security project, which is due to become operational next year.

    By Bruno Waterfield Last updated: July 26th, 2013

    Find this story at 26 July 2013

    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

    How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe

    Top secret documents detail the mass scope of efforts by the United States to spy on Germany and Europe. Each month, the NSA monitors a half a billion communications and EU buildings are bugged. The scandal poses a threat to trans-Atlantic relations.

    At first glance, the story always appears to be the same. A needle has disappeared into the haystack — information lost in a sea of data.

    For some time now, though, it appears America’s intelligence services have been trying to tackle the problem from a different angle. “If you’re looking for a needle in the haystack, you need a haystack,” says Jeremy Bash, the former chief of staff to ex-CIA head Leon Panetta.

    An enormous haystack it turns out — one comprised of the billions of minutes of daily cross-border telephone traffic. Add to that digital streams from high-bandwidth Internet cables that transport data equivalent to that held in Washington’s Library of Congress around the world in the course of a few seconds. And then add to that the billions of emails sent to international destinations each day — a world of entirely uncontrolled communication. And also a world full of potential threats — at least from the intelligence services’ perspective. Those are the “challenges,” an internal statement at the National Security Agency (NSA), the American signals intelligence organization, claims.

    Four-star General Keith Alexander — who is today the NSA director and America’s highest-ranking cyber warrior as the chief of the US Cyber Command — defined these challenges. Given the cumulative technological eavesdropping capacity, he asked during a 2008 visit to Menwith Hill, Britain’s largest listening station near Harrogate in Yorkshire, “Why can’t we collect all the signals all the time?”

    All the signals all the time. Wouldn’t that be the NSA’s ideal haystack? So what would the needle be? A trail to al-Qaida, an industrial facility belonging to an enemy state, plans prepared by international drug dealers or even international summit preparations being made by leading politicians of friendly nations? Whatever the target, it would be determined on a case by case basis. What is certain, however, is that there would always be a haystack.

    A Fiasco for the NSA

    Just how close America’s NSA got to this dream in cozy cooperation with other Western intelligence services has been exposed in recent weeks by a young American who, going by outward appearances, doesn’t look much like the hero he is being celebrated as around the world by people who feel threatened by America’s enormous surveillance apparatus.

    The whole episode is a fiasco for the NSA which, in contrast to the CIA, has long been able to conduct its spying without drawing much public attention. Snowden has done “irreversible and significant damage” to US national security, Alexander told ABC a week ago. Snowden’s NSA documents contain more than one or two scandals. They are a kind of digital snapshot of the world’s most powerful intelligence agency’s work over a period of around a decade. SPIEGEL has seen and reviewed a series of documents from the archive.

    The documents prove that Germany played a central role in the NSA’s global surveillance network — and how the Germans have also become targets of US attacks. Each month, the US intelligence service saves data from around half a billion communications connections from Germany.

    No one is safe from this mass spying — at least almost no one. Only one handpicked group of nations is excluded — countries that the NSA has defined as close friends, or “2nd party,” as one internal document indicates. They include the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A document classified as “top secret” states that, “The NSA does NOT target its 2nd party partners, nor request that 2nd parties do anything that is inherently illegal for NSA to do.”

    ‘We Can, and Often Do Target Signals’

    For all other countries, including the group of around 30 nations that are considered to be 3rd party partners, however, this protection does not apply. “We can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners,” the NSA boasts in an internal presentation.

    According to the listing, Germany is among the countries that are the focus of surveillance. Thus, the documents confirm what had already been suspected for some time in government circles in Berlin — that the US intelligence service, with approval from the White House, is spying on the Germans — possibly right up to the level of the chancellor. So it comes as little surprise that the US has used every trick in the book to spy on the Washington offices of the European Union, as one document viewed by SPIEGEL indicates.

    But the new aspect of the revelations isn’t that countries are trying to spy on each other, eavesdropping on ministers and conducting economic espionage. What is most important about the documents is that they reveal the possibility of the absolute surveillance of a country’s people and foreign citizens without any kind of effective controls or supervision. Among the intelligence agencies in the Western world, there appears to be a division of duties and at times extensive cooperation. And it appears that the principle that foreign intelligence agencies do not monitor the citizens of their own country, or that they only do so on the basis of individual court decisions, is obsolete in this world of globalized communication and surveillance. Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency can spy on anyone but British nationals, the NSA can conduct surveillance on anyone but Americans, and Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency can spy on anyone but Germans. That’s how a matrix is created of boundless surveillance in which each partner aids in a division of roles.

    The documents show that, in this situation, the services did what is not only obvious, but also anchored in German law: They exchanged information. And they worked together extensively. That applies to the British and the Americans, but also to the BND, which assists the NSA in its Internet surveillance.

    Unimaginable Dimensions

    SPIEGEL has decided not to publish details it has seen about secret operations that could endanger the lives of NSA workers. Nor is it publishing the related internal code words. However, this does not apply to information about the general surveillance of communications. They don’t endanger any human lives — they simply describe a system whose dimensions go beyond the imaginable. This kind of global debate is actually precisely what Snowden intended and what motivated his breach of secrecy. “The public needs to decide whether these policies are right or wrong,” he says.

    The facts, which are now a part of the public record thanks to Snowden, disprove the White House’s line of defense up until now, which has been that the surveillance is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, as President Barack Obama said during his recent visit to Berlin. NSA chief Alexander has sought to justify himself by saying that the NSA has prevented 10 terrorist attacks in the United States alone. Globally, he says that 50 terrorist plots have been foiled with the NSA’s help. That may be true, but it is difficult to verify and at best only part of the truth.

    Research in Berlin, Brussels and Washington, as well as the documents that have been reviewed by the journalists at this publication, reveal how overreaching the US surveillance has been.

    Germany, for its part, has a central role in this global spying system. As the Guardian newspaper, which is working together with Snowden, recently revealed, the NSA has developed a program for the incoming streams of data called “Boundless Informant.” The program is intended to process connection data from all incoming telephone calls in “near real time,” as one document states. It doesn’t record the contents of the call, just the metadata — in other words, the phone numbers involved in the communication.

    It is precisely the kind of data retention that has been the subject of bitter debate in Germany for years. In 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe even banned the practice.

    “Boundless Informant” produces heat maps of countries in which the data collected by the NSA originates. The most closely monitored regions are located in the Middle East, followed by Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. The latter two are marked in red on the NSA’s map of the world. Germany, the only country in Europe on the map, is shown in yellow, a sign of considerable spying.

    Spying on the European Union
    An NSA table (see graphic), published for the first time here by SPIEGEL, documents the massive amount of information captured from the monitored data traffic. According to the graph, on an average day last December, the agency gathered metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. On Dec. 24, it collected data on around 13 million phone calls and about half as many Internet connections.

    On the busiest days, such as Jan. 7 of this year, the information gathered spiked to nearly 60 million communications processes under surveillance. The Americans are collecting metadata from up to half a billion communications a month in Germany — making the country one of the biggest sources of streams of information flowing into the agency’s gigantic sea of data.

    Another look at the NSA’s data hoard shows how much less information the NSA is taking from countries like France and Italy. In the same period, the agency recorded data from an average of around 2 million connections, and about 7 million on Christmas Eve. In Poland, which is also under surveillance, the numbers varied between 2 million and 4 million in the first three weeks of December.

    But the NSA’s work has little to do with classic eavesdropping. Instead, it’s closer to a complete structural acquisition of data. Believing that less can be extrapolated from such metadata than from intercepted communication content would be a mistake, though. It’s a gold mine for investigators, because it shows not only contact networks, but also enables the creation of movement profiles and even predictions about the possible behavior of the people participating in the communication under surveillance.

    According to insiders familiar with the German portion of the NSA program, the main interest is in a number of large Internet hubs in western and southern Germany. The secret NSA documents show that Frankfurt plays an important role in the global network, and the city is named as a central base in the country. From there, the NSA has access to Internet connections that run not only to countries like Mali or Syria, but also to ones in Eastern Europe. Much suggests that the NSA gathers this data partly with and without Germany’s knowledge, although the individual settings by which the data is filtered and sorted have apparently been discussed. By comparison, the “Garlick” system, with which the NSA monitored satellite communication out of the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling for years, seems modest. The NSA listening station at Bad Aibling was at the center of the German debate over America’s controversial Echelon program and alleged industrial espionage during the 1990s.

    “The US relationship with Germany has been about as close as you can get,”American journalist and NSA expert James Bamford recently told German weekly Die Zeit. “We probably put more listening posts in Germany than anyplace because of its proximity to the Soviet Union.”

    Such foreign partnerships, one document states, provide “unique target access.”

    ‘Privacy of Telecommunications’ Is ‘Inviolable’

    But the US does not share the results of the surveillance with all of these foreign partners, the document continues. In many cases, equipment and technical support are offered in exchange for the signals accessed. Often the agency will offer equipment, training and technical support to gain access to its desired targets. These “arrangements” are typically bilateral and made outside of any military and civil relationships the US might have with these countries, one top secret document shows. This international division of labor seems to violate Article 10 of Germany’s constitution, the Basic Law, which guarantees that “the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable” and can only be suspended in narrowly defined exceptions.

    “Any analyst can target anyone anytime,” Edward Snowden said in his video interview, and that includes a federal judge or the president, if an email address is available, he added.

    Just how unscrupulously the US government allows its intelligence agencies to act is documented by a number of surveillance operations that targeted the European Union in Brussels and Washington, for which it has now become clear that the NSA was responsible.

    A little over five years ago, security experts discovered that a number of odd, aborted phone calls had been made around a certain extension within the Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the European Council, the powerful body representing the leaders of the EU’s 27 member states. The calls were all made to numbers close to the one used as the remote servicing line of the Siemens telephone system used in the building. Officials in Brussels asked the question: How likely is it that a technician or service computer would narrowly misdial the service extension a number of times? They traced the origin of the calls — and were greatly surprised by what they found. It had come from a connection just a few kilometers away in the direction of the Brussels airport, in the suburb of Evere, where NATO headquarters is located.

    The EU security experts managed to pinpoint the line’s exact location — a building complex separated from the rest of the headquarters. From the street, it looks like a flat-roofed building with a brick facade and a large antenna on top. The structure is separated from the street by a high fence and a privacy shield, with security cameras placed all around. NATO telecommunications experts — and a whole troop of NSA agents — work inside. Within the intelligence community, this place is known as a sort of European headquarters for the NSA.

    A review of calls made to the remote servicing line showed that it was reached several times from exactly this NATO complex — with potentially serious consequences. Every EU member state has rooms at the Justus Lipsius building for use by ministers, complete with telephone and Internet connections.

    Unscrupulous in Washington

    The NSA appears to be even more unscrupulous on its home turf. The EU’s diplomatic delegation to the United States is located in an elegant office building on Washington’s K Street. But the EU’s diplomatic protection apparently doesn’t apply in this case. As parts of one NSA document seen by SPIEGEL indicate, the NSA not only bugged the building, but also infiltrated its internal computer network. The same goes for the EU mission at the United Nations in New York. The Europeans are a “location target,” a document from Sept. 2010 states. Requests to discuss these matters with both the NSA and the White House went unanswered.

    Now a high-level commission of experts, agreed upon by European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and US Attorney General Eric Holder, is to determine the full scope of the routine data snooping and discuss the legal protection possibilities for EU citizens. A final report is expected to be released in October.

    The extent of the NSA’s systematic global surveillance network is highlighted in an overview from Fort Meade, the agency’s headquarters. It describes a number of secret operations involving the surveillance of Internet and international data traffic. “In the Information Age, (the) NSA aggressively exploits foreign signals traveling complex global networks,” an internal description states.

    Details in a further, previously unpublished document reveal exactly what takes place there. It describes how the NSA received access to an entire bundle of fiber-optic cables, which have a data-transfer capacity of several gigabytes per second. It is one of the Internet’s larger superhighways. The paper indicates that access to the cables is a relatively recent development and includes Internet backbone circuits, “including several that service the Russian market.” Technicians in Fort Meade are able to access “thousands of trunk groups connected worldwide,” according to the document. In a further operation, the intelligence organization is able to monitor a cable that collects data flows from the Middle East, Europe, South America and Asia (see graphic).

    But it is not just intelligence agencies from allied nations that have willingly aided the NSA. Revelations related to the Prism program make it clear that agents likewise access vast quantity of data from US Internet companies.

    NSA ‘Alliances With Over 80 Major Global Corporations’
    Heads of these companies have vociferously denied that the NSA has direct access to their data. But it would seem that, outside of the Prism program, dozens of companies have willingly worked together with the US intelligence agency.

    According to the documents seen by SPIEGEL, a particularly valuable partner is a company which is active in the US and has access to information that crisscrosses America. At the same time, this company, by virtue of its contacts, offers “unique access to other telecoms and (Internet service providers).” The company is “aggressively involved in shaping traffic to run signals of interest past our monitors,” according to a secret NSA document. The cooperation has existed since 1985, the documents say.

    Apparently, it’s not an isolated case, either. A further document clearly demonstrates the compliance of a number of different companies. There are “alliances with over 80 major global corporations supporting both missions,” according to a paper that is marked top secret. In NSA jargon, “both missions” refers to defending networks in the US, on the one hand, and monitoring networks abroad, on the other. The companies involved include telecommunications firms, producers of network infrastructure, software companies and security firms.

    Such cooperation is an extremely delicate issue for the companies involved. Many have promised their customers data confidentiality in their terms and conditions. Furthermore, they are obliged to follow the laws of the countries in which they do business. As such, their cooperation deals with the NSA are top secret. Even in internal NSA documents, they are only referred to using code names.

    “There has long been a very close and very secret relationship between a number of telecoms and the NSA,” Bamford, the expert on the NSA, told Die Zeit. “Every time it gets discovered it stops for a while and then starts up again.”

    The importance of this rather peculiar form of public-private partnership was recently made clear by General Alexander, the NSA chief. At a technology symposium in a Washington, DC, suburb in May, he said that industry and government must work closely together. “As great as we have it up there, we cannot do it without your help,” he said. “You know, we can’t do our mission without the great help of all the great people here.” If one believes the documents, several experts were sitting in the audience from companies that had reached a cooperation deal with the NSA.

    In the coming weeks, details relating to the collaboration between Germany’s BND and the NSA will be the focus of a parliamentary investigative committee in Berlin responsible for monitoring the intelligence services. The German government has sent letters to the US requesting additional information. The questions that need to be addressed are serious. Can a sovereign state tolerate a situation in which half a billion pieces of data are stolen on its territory each month from a foreign country? And can this be done especially when this country has identified the sovereign state as a “3rd party foreign partner” and, as such, one that can be spied on at any time, as has now become clear?

    So far, the German government has made nothing more than polite inquiries. But facts that have now come to light will certainly increase pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government. Elections, after all, are only three months away, and Germans — as Merkel well knows — are particularly sensitive when it comes to data privacy.

    The NSA’s Library of Babel

    In a story written by the blind writer Jorge Luis Borges, the Library of Babel is introduced as perhaps the most secretive of all labyrinths: a universe full of bookshelves connected by a spiral staircase that has no beginning and no end. Those inside wander through the library looking for the book of books. They grow old inside without ever finding it.

    If an actual building could really approach this imaginary library, it is the structure currently being erected in the Utah mountains near the city of Bluffdale. There, on Redwood Road, stands a sign with black letters on a white background next to a freshly paved road. Restricted area, no access, it reads. In Defense Department documents, form No. 1391, page 134, the buildings behind the sign are given the project No. 21078. It refers to the Utah Data Center, four huge warehouses full of servers costing a total of €1.2 billion ($1.56 billion).

    Built by a total of 11,000 workers, the facility is to serve as a storage center for everything that is captured in the US data dragnet. It has a capacity that will soon have to be measured in yottabytes, which is 1 trillion terabytes or a quadrillion gigabytes. Standard external hard drives sold in stores have a capacity of about 1 terabyte. Fifteen such hard drives could store the entire contents of the Library of Congress.

    The man who first made information about the Utah center public, and who likely knows the most about the NSA, is James Bamford. He says: “The NSA is the largest, most expensive and most powerful intelligence agency in the world.”

    Since the 9/11 terror attacks, the NSA’s workforce has steadily grown and its budget has constantly increased. SPIEGEL was able to see confidential figures relating to the NSA that come from Snowden’s documents, though the statistics are from 2006. In that year, 15,986 members of the military and 19,335 civilians worked for the NSA, which had an annual budget of $6.115 billion. These numbers and more recent statistics are officially confidential.

    In other words, there is a good reason why NSA head Keith Alexander is called “Emporer Alexander.” “Keith gets whatever he wants,” says Bamford.

    Still, Bamford doesn’t believe that the NSA completely fulfills the mission it has been tasked with. “I’ve seen no indications that NSA’s vastly expanded surveillance has prevented any terrorist activities,” he says. There is, however, one thing that the NSA managed to predict with perfect accuracy: where the greatest danger to its secrecy lies. In internal documents, the agency identifies terrorists and hackers as being particularly threatening. Even more dangerous, however, the documents say, is if an insider decides to blow the whistle.

    An insider like Edward Joseph Snowden.

    07/01/2013 11:11 AM
    By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock

    Find this story at 1 July 2013


    NSA Accused of Spying on EU; President of the European Parliament demands “Full Clarification” From the U.S.

    BRUSSELS—Senior European politicians demanded explanations from Washington of allegations that the National Security Agency spied on European Union institutions, risking a corrosion of trust as the EU and U.S. embark on negotiations over a free-trade accord.

    The German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend that the U.S. placed listening devices in EU offices in Washington, infiltrated computers there and electronically spied on EU bodies elsewhere. It cited secret documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as the basis for its report.


    A former NSA base in Germany. A German politician criticized allegations the U.S. spied on European officials.

    The allegations come at a sensitive time. The EU in June gave the go-ahead for the start of trade negotiations with the U.S., which are likely to start soon. Though the talks are expected to take at least two years, the European Parliament, where many lawmakers are highly sensitive to privacy issues, will need to approve any accord.

    “Partners do not spy on each other,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said at a public forum in Luxembourg. “We cannot negotiate over a big trans-Atlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators. The American authorities should eliminate any such doubt swiftly.”

    Snowden on the Run

    U.S. authorities sought to catch Edward Snowden before he reached his next goal: political asylum in Ecuador.

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country had formally requested clarification from Washington. “These facts, if confirmed, would be absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

    Germany’s Justice Ministry also called for the U.S. to clarify the matter, and for European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to act. “If the media reports are true, it’s reminiscent of the approaches of enemies during the Cold War. It’s beyond any stretch of the imagination that our friends in the U.S.A. see the Europeans as enemies,” German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a statement.

    “Comprehensive spying by the Americans on Europeans cannot be allowed,” she said, adding that it is unlikely the U.S. could justify bugging European diplomacy offices as part of the global fight on terrorism.

    The European External Action Service, the foreign policy arm of the EU whose premises were an alleged target of U.S. surveillance, said the issue “is clearly a matter of concern.” It said the U.S. authorities “have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information…and will come back to us as soon as possible.”

    The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the U.S. is responding to the European Union privately about the allegations.

    The U. S. “will respond appropriately to the European Union through our diplomatic channels,” the office said. “We will also discuss these issues bilaterally with EU member states.”

    The office’s statement didn’t address the specific allegations but said, “We have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

    In a separate report Sunday, the Guardian newspaper in Britain said an NSA document lists 38 embassies and missions as “targets” for the agency’s spying, among them the French, Italian and Greek embassies. The article cited information leaked by Mr. Snowden as it source.

    The allegations are the latest to emerge in U.S. and European media about surveillance activities by the U.S. and its closest allies based on Mr. Snowden’s disclosures. Mr. Snowden is at a Moscow airport, arriving there from Hong Kong in a bid to travel to Ecuador, where he has applied for political asylum.

    The lead author of Der Spiegel’s report was Laura Poitras, an American documentary filmmaker who created a video interview with Mr. Snowden, distributed online, in which he described why he released information from some of the NSA documents.

    Ms. Poitras also was co-author of an article in the Washington Post, based on Mr. Snowden’s leaks, about an NSA program to gain access to U.S. Internet companies’ computers in an effort to track online activities of foreigners suspected in terrorist activity.

    Julian Assange, founder of the antisecrecy site WikiLeaks, said Sunday there would be no halting future disclosures from Mr. Snowden. “Look, there is no stopping the publishing process at this stage. Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can’t be pressured by any state to stop the publication process,” he said in an interview with the ABC network from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he is seeking refuge.

    According to intelligence specialists, the activities alleged in Der Spiegel’s report are similar to previously reported spying efforts among friendly countries. While allies have no intention of attacking one another, they seek information on decision-making within each other’s governments, and as a way to tell whether those governments might be spying on them.

    The NSA raised concerns in 2006 about the merger of French-owned phone-equipment company Alcatel with U.S.-based Lucent because U.S. officials feared the deal would provide the French extraordinary access to U.S. telecommunications systems.

    The NSA raised similar issues more recently over Chinese telecom-gear company Huawei Technologies’ efforts to expand in the U.S.

    The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said in a statement he was “deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices.”

    The statement added: “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations…on behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations.”

    A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the allegations.

    According to Der Spiegel, an NSA document dated September 2010 showed that the Washington embassy of the European Union was bugged and its computer network infiltrated. Similar measures were taken at the European mission to the United Nations in New York. The document described the Europeans as “targets.”

    In addition, the U.S. bugged EU conversations in Brussels, spying on theJustus Lipsius building, headquarters of the Council of the European Union, according to the report.

    The magazine reported that the NSA saves information on about a half billion phone or Internet connections from Germany every year through its “Boundless Informant” program.

    Only a few countries labeled as close friends by the NSA are largely exempt from its monitoring: the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the magazine said. An additional 30 countries are classified as “third party,” with an internal NSA presentation saying the agency is able to intercept signals from these countries and often does, Der Spiegel reported.

    The controversy over the new allegations is reminiscent of the furor ignited in Europe in 2000 by disclosures about the NSA’s so-called Echelon project, which included commercial organizations among its alleged targets, prompting an investigation and report from the European Parliament.

    The report drew a distinction between spying for national-security reasons and for commercial advantage, saying the latter could breach EU law.

    European lawmakers have also expressed disquiet about the sharing of European financial data with U.S. authorities.

    The reports about the NSA’s alleged activities already have prompted Ms. Reding, the EU justice commissioner, to organize, together with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a panel of experts to find out how much data about Europeans was shared.
    —Stacy Meichtry in Paris and Siobhan Gorman in Washington contributed to this article.

    Write to Stephen Fidler at stephen.fidler@wsj.com, Frances Robinson at frances.robinson@dowjones.com and Laura Stevens at laura.stevens@wsj.com

    A version of this article appeared July 1, 2013, on page A4 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Officials Slam Alleged NSA Spying on the EU.

    Updated June 30, 2013, 7:26 p.m. ET

    Find this story at 30 June 2013

    Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

    New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies

    Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France and Italy

    Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics

    One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which according to a 2007 document is ‘implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC’. Photograph: Guardian

    US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as “targets”. It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae.

    Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the EU missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. The list in the September 2010 document does not mention the UK, Germany or other western European states.

    One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is “implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC” – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals.

    The documents suggest the aim of the bugging exercise against the EU embassy in central Washington is to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between member states.

    The new revelations come at a time when there is already considerable anger across the EU over earlier evidence provided by Snowden of NSA eavesdropping on America’s European allies.

    Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, demanded an explanation from Washington, saying that if confirmed, US behaviour “was reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war”.

    The German magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that some of the bugging operations in Brussels targeting the EU’s Justus Lipsius building – a venue for summit and ministerial meetings in the Belgian capital – were directed from within Nato headquarters nearby.

    The US intelligence service codename for the bugging operation targeting the EU mission at the United Nations is “Perdido”. Among the documents leaked by Snowden is a floor plan of the mission in midtown Manhattan. The methods used against the mission include the collection of data transmitted by implants, or bugs, placed inside electronic devices, and another covert operation that appears to provide a copy of everything on a targeted computer’s hard drive.

    The eavesdropping on the EU delegation to the US, on K Street in Washington, involved three different operations targeted on the embassy’s 90 staff. Two were electronic implants and one involved the use of antennas to collect transmissions.

    Although the latest documents are part of an NSA haul leaked by Snowden, it is not clear in each case whether the surveillance was being exclusively done by the NSA – which is most probable as the embassies and missions are technically overseas – or by the FBI or the CIA, or a combination of them. The 2010 document describes the operation as “close access domestic collection”.

    The operation against the French mission to the UN had the covername “Blackfoot” and the one against its embassy in Washington was “Wabash”. The Italian embassy in Washington was known to the NSA as both “Bruneau” and “Hemlock”.

    The eavesdropping of the Greek UN mission was known as “Powell” and the operation against its embassy was referred to as “Klondyke”.

    Snowden, the 30-year-old former NSA contractor and computer analyst whose leaks have ignited a global row over the extent of US and UK electronic surveillance, fled from his secret bolthole in Hong Kong a week ago. His plan seems to have been to travel to Ecuador via Moscow, but he is in limbo at Moscow airport after his US passport was cancelled, and without any official travel documents issued from any other country.

    Ewen MacAskill in Rio de Janeiro and Julian Borger
    The Guardian, Sunday 30 June 2013 21.28 BST

    Find this story at 30 June 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    NSA-Spähprogramm in Deutschland; Dame, König, As, Spion

    Europa und Deutschland sind Hauptziele der Überwachung durch den US-Geheimdienst NSA. Millionen von Daten werden hierzulande von Obamas Spionen gesammelt. Doch Angela Merkels Regierung wirkt erstaunlich passiv. Warum?

    Berlin – Als Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger kürzlich am Brandenburger Tor der Rede von Barack Obama lauschte, sah man sie in bester Stimmung. Sie winkte mit einem US-Fähnchen, die Worte des Präsidenten zu Freiheit und Gerechtigkeit gefielen der Liberalen sehr.

    Knapp zwei Wochen später ist von der guten Stimmung der Ministerin nichts mehr übrig. Selten hat man sie so verärgert vernommen wie an diesem Sonntag. “Es sprengt jede Vorstellung, dass unsere Freunde in den USA die Europäer als Feinde ansehen”, sagt sie. Sie fühle sich “an das Vorgehen unter Feinden während des Kalten Krieges” erinnert.

    Anlass des Aufschreis der Justizministerin ist ein SPIEGEL-Bericht, der unter Berufung auf Dokumente des Whistleblowers Edward Snowden neue Details der Spähprogramme des US-Geheimdiensts NSA offenlegt. Ob Wanzen in EU-Vertretungen, Lauschangriffe auf Brüsseler Behörden oder das flächendeckende Abschöpfen deutscher Telekommunikationsdaten – der Geheimdienst scheint vor nichts zurückzuschrecken.

    Unter Parlamentariern macht sich Entsetzen über das Ausmaß der Spähattacken aus Übersee breit. Als “Riesenskandal” bezeichnet der Präsident des Europaparlaments, Martin Schulz (SPD), die Vorwürfe. Von einer “unvorstellbar umfassenden Spionageaktion” spricht Grünen-Fraktionschefin Renate Künast, von einer “ernsthaften Erschütterung des Vertrauensverhältnisses” der FDP-Innenexperte Jimmy Schulz.

    Innenminister Friedrich im Wartemodus

    Kritik gibt es aber nicht nur an der Regierung in Washington. Auch das Agieren der Kanzlerin rückt plötzlich in den Fokus. Angela Merkel müsse “den Sachverhalt schnellstens klären”, fordert ihr Herausforderer Peer Steinbrück. Wenn die Kanzlerin nun noch immer behaupte, das Thema gehöre in bilaterale und geheime Gespräche, “dann gibt sie sich der Lächerlichkeit preis”, sagt Künast.

    Es ist Wahlkampf, klar. Aber über die Kritik kann sich die Bundesregierung kaum beschweren. Mit Ausnahme der Justizministerin macht Merkels Mannschaft nicht den Eindruck, als habe das Thema oberste Priorität.

    Vom CSU-Bundesinnenminister ist seit dem Auffliegen des ersten Spähprogramms vor einigen Wochen kaum etwas zu hören. Hans-Peter Friedrich hat kürzlich ein paar Fragen über den Atlantik geschickt und befindet sich seitdem im Wartemodus. Die Kanzlerin besprach das Thema mit dem US-Präsidenten bei dessen Besuch in Berlin. Aber viel mehr als ein paar mahnende Worte, bei modernen Überwachungstechniken stets die Verhältnismäßigkeit im Blick zu haben, sprang dabei nicht heraus.

    Es ist – gerade in der Sicherheitspolitik – nicht ganz einfach, auf Konfrontation mit den USA zu gehen, deutsche Behörden haben zuletzt immer wieder von den Informationen ihrer amerikanischen Partner profitiert. Aber angesichts der neuen Enthüllungen stellt sich die Frage, wie viel Zurückhaltung sich die Bundesregierung eigentlich leisten kann.

    Wie Verwanzungen und flächendeckende Lauschangriffe in Partnerländern noch mit Terrorabwehr rechtfertigt werden sollen, erscheint fraglich. Wenn von einem ausländischen Nachrichtendienst derart systematisch die Privatsphäre der Bürger unterlaufen wird, sind ein paar offene Worte sicher nicht zu viel erwartet. Manche sind man da weiter. Frankreichs Außenminister Laurent Fabius drängte die USA am Sonntag zu einer Stellungnahme, die Brüsseler Kommission ebenso, auch der Generalbundesanwalt schaltete sich in die Spähaffäre ein.

    Wie lässt sich Druck auf die USA ausüben?

    Fragen gibt es genug. Kann es wirklich sein, dass deutsche Dienste von der großflächigen Vorratsdatenspeicherung nichts wussten, wo doch gerade im Sicherheitsbereich zwischen Berlin und Washington ein reger Austausch herrscht? Werden deutsche Bürger aktuell überwacht, und welche Bereiche der Kommunikation sind betroffen? Und was tut die Bundesregierung eigentlich konkret, um das Recht auf informationelle Selbstbestimmung der Bürger hierzulande gegen Angriffe von außen zu schützen?

    Die Zurückhaltung von Merkel und Co. macht inzwischen auch die eigenen Reihen ungeduldig. Als die Bundesregierung im Parlamentarischen Kontrollgremium kürzlich über die Details der US-Überwachung in Deutschland Bericht erstatten sollte, konnten dem Vernehmen nach dazu weder Friedrichs Staatssekretär etwas sagen noch Merkels Geheimdienstkoordinator. Man warte noch auf Antworten aus Washington, hieß es. Auch unter Abgeordneten von Union und FDP machte sich daraufhin Ärger breit. Bis Mitte August soll die Bundesregierung jetzt ihre Hausaufgaben nachholen. Dann tagt das geheime Gremium erneut.

    Schon jetzt wünscht sich mancher aber, dass die Koalition mehr Druck auf die Amerikaner ausübt. Besonders im EU-Parlament gibt es dazu einen Strauß an Überlegungen. Die einen denken darüber nach, Whistleblower Snowden einen Preis zu verleihen. Die anderen wollen die Abkommen zur Übermittlung von Bank- und Fluggastdaten aufkündigen. Und dann ist da noch die Idee, die seit einiger Zeit laufenden Verhandlungen für eine gemeinsame Freihandelszone zwischen Brüssel und Washington zu überdenken.

    Auch in der Union gibt es dafür Sympathien – wohlwissend, dass es sich dabei um ein Lieblingsprojekt der Kanzlerin handelt. “Wie soll man”, fragt Elmar Brok, Chef des Auswärtigen Ausschusses für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten des Europaparlaments, “noch verhandeln, wenn man Angst haben muss, dass die eigene Verhandlungsposition vorab abgehört wird?”

    30. Juni 2013, 18:53 Uhr
    Von Veit Medick

    Find this story at 30 June 2013


    Skype calls’ immunity to police phone tapping threatened

    Skype calls’ immunity to police phone tapping threatened
    Suspicious phone conversations on Skype could be targeted for tapping as part of a pan-European crackdown.

    Suspicious phone conversations on Skype could be targeted for tapping as part of a pan-European crackdown on what law authorities believe is a massive technical loophole in current wiretapping laws, allowing criminals to communicate without fear of being overheard by the police.

    The European investigation could also help U.S. law enforcement authorities gain access to Internet calls. The National Security Agency (NSA) is understood to believe that suspected terrorists use Skype to circumvent detection.

    While the police can get a court order to tap a suspect’s land line and mobile phone, it is currently impossible to get a similar order for Internet calls on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Skype insisted that it does cooperate with law enforcement authorities, “where legally and technically possible,” the company said in a statement.

    “Skype has extensively debriefed Eurojust on our law enforcement program and capabilities,” Skype said.

    Eurojust, a European Union agency responsible for coordinating judicial investigations across different jurisdictions announced Friday the opening of an investigation involving all 27 countries of the European Union.

    “We will bring investigators from all 27 member states together to find a common approach to this problem,” said Joannes Thuy, a spokesman for Eurojust based in The Hague in the Netherlands.

    The purpose of Eurojust’s coordination role is to overcome “the technical and judicial obstacles to the interception of Internet telephony systems”, Eurojust said.

    The main judicial obstacles are the differing approaches to data protection in the various E.U. member states, Thuy said.

    The investigation is being headed by Eurojust’s Italian representative, Carmen Manfredda.

    Criminals in Italy are increasingly making phone calls over the Internet in order to avoid getting caught through mobile phone intercepts, according to Direzione Nazionale Antimafia, the anti-Mafia office in Rome.

    Police officers in Milan say organized crime, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings are turning to Skype and other systems of VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony in order to frustrate investigators.

    While telecommunications companies are obliged to comply with court orders to monitor calls on land lines and mobile phones, “Skype’ refuses to cooperate with the authorities,” Thuy said.

    In addition to the issue of cooperation, there are technical obstacles to tapping Skype calls. The way calls are set up and carried between computers is proprietary, and the encryption system used is strong. It could be possible to monitor the call on the originating or receiving computer using a specially written program, or perhaps to divert the traffic through a proxy server, but these are all far more difficult than tapping a normal phone. Calls between a PC and a regular telephone via the SkypeIn or SkypeOut service, however, could fall under existing wiretapping regulations and capabilities at the point where they meet the public telephone network.

    The pan-European response to the problem may open the door for the U.S. to take similar action, Thuy said.

    “We have very good cooperation with the U.S.,” he said, pointing out that a U.S. prosecutor, Marylee Warren, is based in The Hague in order to liaise between U.S. and European judicial authorities.

    The NSA (National Security Agency) is so concerned by Skype that it is offering hackers large sums of money to break its encryption, according to unsourced reports in the U.S.

    Italian investigators have become increasingly reliant on wiretaps, Eurojust said, giving a recent example of customs and tax police in Milan, who overheard a suspected cocaine trafficker telling an accomplice to switch to Skype in order to get details of a 2kg drug consignment.

    “Investigators are convinced that the interception of telephone calls have become an essential tool of the police, who spend millions of euros each year tracking down crime through wiretaps of land lines and mobile phones,” Eurojust said.

    The first meeting of Eurojust’s 27 national representatives is planned in the coming weeks but precise details of its timing and the location of the meeting remain secret, Thuy said.

    “They will exchange information and then we will give advice on how to proceed,” he said. Bringing Internet telephony into line with calls on land lines and mobile phones “could be the price we have to pay for our security,” he said.

    Paul Meller (IDG News Service)
    — 23 February, 2009 09:47

    Find this story at 23 February 2009

    Copyright 2013 IDG Communications

    Brussels failed to act against US surveillance of EU citizens

    European authorities have known since mid-2011 that the US could conduct surveillance on EU citizens. But experts say that European countries had little interest in picking a fight with their ally in Washington.
    There has been widespread outrage in Europe over the scope of the National Security Agency’s PRISM surveillance program. European experts, however, are not surprised by American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations.
    “What Snowden revealed about PRISM was already known to certain well-connected people for a long time,” Benjamin Bergemann, the author of the German blog netzpolitik.org and a member of the Digitale Gesellschaft (Digital Society) e.V., told DW.
    The European Parliament commissioned a report in 2012, which showed that US authorities could theoretically access European citizens’ data since 2008. The report’s authors were hard on European authorities.
    In the EU, there was no awareness that mass political surveillance was possible, according to the authors of the study. Incredibly, since 2011 “neither the EU Commission nor the national lawmakers nor the European Parliament had any knowledge of FISAAA 1881a.”
    FISAAA 1881a refers to a section of a 2008 amendment to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That section of the 2008 amendment empowers US spy agencies to collect information stored in American cloud computing providers.
    The authors of the EU study warned that US authorities had access to the data of non-US citizens in these so-called data clouds. The EU was neglecting to protect its citizens, according to the report’s devastating conclusion.

    Focus on China and Russia

    Europeans had long invested their energy in the fight for consumer protection in the Internet and against cyber crime, according to Julien Jeandesboz of the Centre d’Etudes sur les Conflits. Jeandesboz said that the focus in the EU was not on state-sponsored threats to its citizens.
    The Europeans debated about hackers, identity theft, and the regulation of Internet companies. And in the rare moments when the discussion did turn to state-sponsored activities, the EU’s attention was focused on China and Russia.
    Jeandesboz believes that political motivations explain the EU’s blind eye to US spy activities. The Patriot Act, which gave Washington broad wiretapping authority after the September 11, 2001 attacks, was controversial and publicly discussed in the EU. But while it’s one thing to target cyber criminals, it’s totally different to move against the US government, according to Jeandesboz.
    For most European governments, the US is an important ally and trade partner as well as the world’s leading Internet provider.

    European intelligence agencies complicit?

    According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, European intelligence agencies may have profited from the Americans’ surveillance activities. The Guardian reported that Britain’s equivalent to the NSA, the GCHQ, appears to have made use of American intelligence gleaned from PRISM.
    Every European user of Facebook and Google should be aware that their data may be subject to PRISM, said blogger Benjamin Bergemann.
    “One could say, ‘what interest does the US have in me?’ But one should not forget that the European criminal justice systems have an interest in such surveillance and so a coalition of interests could form,” Bergemann said.

    EU citizens’ rights violated

    While Internet users in Europe can sue in court for the control of their own data, no such legal right exists in the US. And European law is at a loss when it comes to transnational data transfers.
    According to Nicolas Hernanz, many laws that are passed in the US now also affect EU citizens. Hernanz, with the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, said that Europeans’ legal right to control their own personal data is being “thrown in the garbage can” as a result of US surveillance activities.
    US lobbyists have managed numerous times to water down tough data protection provisions in EU treaties, according to Bergemann. He hopes that the importance of data protection and privacy will be reflected in pending EU legislative initiatives.
    Jeandesboz believes that if the revelations about PRISM cannot move the EU to act, then nothing can. While experts thought that such sweeping surveillance was possible, it was not considered likely. Jeandesboz said that Europeans need to stand up for their legal tradition in the face of the US. Otherwise, more civil liberties could be sacrificed for security, he continued.
    “The fear of terrorism and the preventative security concept have reached their high point,” said blogger Benjamin Bergemann.

    Data protection directive

    There are many proposals for how the EU can protect its citizens from US surveillance. But there is little unity in the 27-member bloc. A data protection directive, which is supposed to be passed before the 2014 EU elections, has been vigorously debated.
    EU parliamentarians have proposed several changes to the directive. One proposal would flag American web services, warning EU users that the site is governed by US law and could be under the control of US authorities. Another proposal would extend protection to the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    Disturbing trends in Europe

    At the very least, political pressure could be placed on the US, if Washington was forced to sign a law enforcement treaty with the EU. But not even that exists at the moment. And experts warn that pointing the finger across the pond is not enough.
    Within the EU, there has to be a discussion about whether or not data protection should be sacrificed to counterterrorism, the experts say. The concept of preventive security is becoming more prominent in the 27-member bloc, according to Bergemann.
    “The telecommunications providers have been forced to set up an electronic interface for the authorities, so that IP addresses can be retrieved,” Bergemann said. “These trends also exist in Europe.”

    Deutsche Welle
    Nina Haase

    Find this story at 11 June 2013

    © 2013 Deutsche Welle

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