Germany ends spy pact with US and UK after Snowden

A participant holds up a picture of former Edward Snowden with the word "asylum" written above it at a protest gathering in front of the Brandenburg Gate on July 27, 2013 in Berlin, Germany Germans take data protection very seriously

Germany has cancelled a Cold War-era pact with the US and Britain in response to revelations about electronic surveillance operations.

Details of snooping programmes involving the transatlantic allies have been leaked to the media by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.

The revelations have sparked widespread outrage in Germany, where elections are due next month.

The agreement dates from 1968-9, and its cancellation is largely symbolic.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement: "The cancellation of the administrative agreements, which we have pushed for in recent weeks, is a necessary and proper consequence of the recent debate about protecting personal privacy."

Start Quote

Given the good relations between the intelligence agencies, they'll get the information they need anyway”

End Quote Henning Riecke German Council on Foreign Relations

Germans' experience of mass surveillance under the Communist and Nazi dictatorships makes them particularly sensitive to perceived infringements of personal privacy, and the country has strong data protection laws.

The agreement cancelled on Friday gave the Western countries which had troops stationed in West Germany - the US, Britain and France - the right to request surveillance operations to protect those forces.

'No impact'

A German official told the Associated Press news agency that the agreement had not been invoked since the end of the Cold War, and admitted that the decision would have no impact on current intelligence co-operation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama on June 19, 2013 in Berlin, Germany Angela Merkel has raised her concerns about US surveillance with President Obama

A spokesperson for Britain's Foreign Office told reporters that the agreement had not been in use since 1990.

Henning Riecke of the German Council on Foreign Relations told AP that the German government needed to do something to demonstrate at home that it was taking the issue seriously.

"Ending an agreement made in the pre-internet age gives the Germans a chance to show they're doing something, and at the same time the Americans know it's not going to hurt them.

"Given the good relations between the intelligence agencies, they'll get the information they need anyway," he said.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Woman standingMysterious miracle

    It's extremely unusual and shouldn't give false hope, but what makes the body beat cancer on its own?


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach - why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.