A German newspaper reports that the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel has been aware of economic spying by the United States on European companies since 2008.
Citing intelligence agency documents, the German Bild Daily said on Monday that the US National Security Agency (NSA) sought to spy on European firms through the monitoring station of Berlin’s BND foreign intelligence agency at Bad Aibling in southern Bavaria.
The NSA reportedly attempted to spy on phone numbers and e-mail addresses at the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), which is now known as Airbus, and Eurocopter, now called Airbus Helicopters.
The German daily said it had seen two documents sent by the BND to the chancellery dating back to 2008 and 2010, informing it of the NSA activities.
Citing an unnamed source from the German parliamentary committee on the US spying agency, Bild said Berlin chose to remain silent and close its eyes to the information in order to avoid “endangering cooperation” with Washington and the NSA.
Last week, German news weekly Spiegel said Germany had helped the NSA spy on European companies for years. The report added that the NSA had provided the BND with mail addresses and mobile phone numbers, later to be monitored by Berlin on behalf of Washington.
In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, blew the whistle on the NSA, suggesting Washington had been conducting massive Internet and phone data spying on “friendly countries and their leaders,” including Germany. The revelation outraged Chancellor Merkel.
According to the revelations, which soured relations between Germany and the United States, the NSA had tapped Merkel’s mobile phone.
Berlin dropped an investigation into the matter late last year.