British GCHQ has listening post in Berlin

Suspected listening device has been mounted atop the roof

- von Presseticker  -

B ritain is using its Berlin embassy to spy on the nearby Bundestag, as well as the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Concern was raised following the latest Snowden revelations and prompted the German FM to invite the British ambassador ‘for a talk’.

The news comes just one week after the alleged closure of an American listening ‘nest’ just 150 meters away from the British embassy, which is believed to be damage control following the embarrassing details of how the US itself is listening in on Merkel.

NSA documents leaked by Snowden, and supported by satellite photographs and related information about past spying activities, talk of high-tech listening equipment perched right on top of the British embassy, the Independent revealed in an exclusive.

British GCHQ has listening post in Berlin

The allegations prompted the German Foreign Ministry to call on British Ambassador Simon McDonald to discuss Tuesday’s reports. “At the instigation of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the British ambassador was asked to come for a talk at the Foreign Ministry,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“The director of the European department asked for an explanation of current reports in British media and indicated that tapping communications from a diplomatic mission would be a violation of international law”, it continued.

The roof of the British embassy appears to contain a white, box-like structure that only shows up when photographed from above. The suspected listening device has been mounted atop the roof since the embassy’s opening in 2000. Germany’s centers of political power are all built around the Brandenburg Gate, within easy reach of the facility’s equipment.

The strength of the equipment has been assessed as such that it can intercept mobile phone conversations, Wi-Fi traffic, and even long-distance calls made from anywhere in Berlin.

The reason for the suspicions has to do with the striking resemblance of the device to Cold-War-era toys used by the British in West Berlin. There, housed in the now defunct Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), the GCHQ used to intercept messages between Russia and East Germany.

“We don’t comment on intelligence questions,” came the reply from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman. But according to some, like the German Green Party’s MEP, Jan Albrecht, “If GCHQ runs a listening post on the top of the UK’s Berlin embassy it is clearly targeting politicians and journalists.”

“This is hardly in the spirit of European co-operation. We are not enemies,” Albrecht said in response to the spokesman’s comments.


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