New reports are emerging showing that in addition to NSA surveillance of German government officials and industry leaders, they also conducted spying against German media outlets, and used the intercepted communications of those outlets to influence German policy.
The spying appears to have focused particularly on Der Spiegel, and an assistant for a German intelligence official who was providing classified information to the journalists. The CIA confronted German intelligence and demanded they “take action” against the man, Hans-Josef Vorbeck, who was reassigned in what was seen as punishment.
While the White House hasn’t officially responded, administration officials say the spying was justified by American national security interests, and that they believed it was appropriate to pressure the German government to prevent further “leaks” to the media.
Der Spiegel says that it believes it was targeted because of its role in the release of WikiLeaks data, and noted the US had also repeatedly complained to the German government about media coverage of the CIA’s involvement in the arrests of three German terror suspects.