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Germany spied on France for US's NSA, reports

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German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (L) and Chancellor Angela Merkel Reuters/Thomas Peter

Germany's BND secret services spied on French and other European companies and officials for the US's National Security Agency (NSA), German newspapers have reported, sparking a scandal in Berlin but no official reaction in Paris.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office has known since 2008 that the BND was carrying out economic espionage for the NSA but failed to stop it because of its anti-terror cooperation with the US, Bild newspaper revealed on Monday.

The tabloid claims to have seen two documents sent to the chancellery in 2008 and 2010, referring to NSA attempts to tap phones and intercept emails connected with the EADS and Eurocopter companies, which are now part of the Airbus group.

The top official at the chancellery at the time was Thomas de Maizière, who is now Germany's interior minister.

Germany has set up a parliamentary commission to look into the scandal, which broke last Thursday when Der Spiegel weekly revealed that the BND tapping European companies' and individuals' phones and emails on order for the NSA for several years.

One member of the commission told Bild that the German authorities turned a blind eye to the practise so as not to harm cooperation with the NSA in the fight against "terrorism".

Germany's Green and Left parties have demanded the sacking of the secret service boss and even a trial for treason.

"If the French authorities have really been spied upon, we need a speedy explanation," commented Left Party parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi. "Did we suspect the French authorities of terrorism?"

But, apart from French Left Party leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, reactions in France have been muted.

Airbus told the Mediapart website that it had nothing to say about "rumours" and the interior ministry said it did not comment on "these questions", while President François Hollande's office did not respond to two requests.

"This espionage is unacceptable," Mélenchon said. "The complacency in respect to the US and the German government has gone on long enough."

Leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed the NSA surveilled phones and emails of German citizens, including Merkel herself, and of other Europeans, including targets in France.