Belgium is to launch an official investigation into reports that Germany’s intelligence service spied on its soil on behalf of the US.
Alexander de Croo, Belgium’s deputy prime minister, said that Germany would “have some explaining to do” if the reports about spying in Belgium, where most of the EU’s institutions are based, proved correct.
The move threatens to widen an ongoing spy scandal that has already rocked Angela Merkel’s government.
It emerged last month that Germany’s BND spied on European targetsincluding French government officials and defence companies at the request of the US National Security Agency (NSA).
German intelligence service (BND) chief Gerhard Schindler
If it now proves that the BND also spied for the Americans in Belgium it could prove damaging.
Mr de Croo, who is Belgium’s telecommunications minister as well as deputy prime minister, ordered an official investigation into reports the BND had monitored internet data in Belgium.
“Bleeding of internet lines is against basic civil liberties and fundamental rights,” Mr de Croo said in a statement.
“That the German secret service was involved is even more remarkable, considering the fierce German reaction two years ago at the tapping of the German chancellor’s phone by the US National Security Agency,” he added.
“If the allegations of widespread wiretapping by the German secret service prove correct, Germany will have some explaining to do.”
There was a major diplomatic falling out between Germany and the US in 2013 after it was disclosed that the NSA had listened in to Mrs Merkel’s mobile phone.
But Mrs Merkel’s government has been accused of hypocrisy after it emerged that the BND spied on French government officials and European defence companies on behalf of the NSA over a number of years.
Documents submitted to a German parliamentary inquriy show that Mrs Merkel’s office was aware of the spying as early as 2008, according to German press reports.