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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/2/15

The Euro Intercepts

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Press Release

The United States National Security Agency has been massively targeting phone numbers of top German ministers and public officials responsible for commerce, finances, economics and agriculture -- including even Angela Merkel's personal assistant.

WikiLeaks publishes today, 1 July 2015, a list of 69 German government telephone numbers from a high-priority NSA target interception list demonstrating economic and political espionage against Germany for almost two decades. WikiLeaks is also publishing classified interception reports resulting from the surveillance, showing the US and UK spying on German officials discussing their positions and disagreements on the solution to the Greek financial crisis.

Merkel intercepted talking to her personal assistant

One intercept report is based on private communication between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her personal assistant. The other is based on a British intelligence interception of the communications of German Chancellery Director-General for EU Affairs Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut.

The Merkel document details a US intercept of the Chancellor on 11 October 2011 and is classified two levels above Top Secret, an indicator that the material is considered highly sensitive. Even so, it is cleared for sharing with other members of the US-led "Five Eyes" spying alliance of UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In the intercepted talk between Chancellor Merkel and her assistant, the Chancellor talks about her views on solutions to the Greek financial crisis and her disagreement with members of her own Cabinet, such as Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, on matters of policy. She also discusses the positions of French leaders, and of the heads of the key institutions of the Troika: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and IMF Director Christine Lagarde.

In the conversation Merkel also stressses the urgency of enacting the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) and of putting pressure on the US and British governments to bring it about. The FTT was first introduced in September 2011 by EU Commission President Jose Barroso. It has been strongly opposed by major banks and, within the EU, by the governments of Britain and Sweden. The Top Secret NSA interception report was shared with British intelligence.

UK bugged Franco-German Greece bailout plan, gave intercept to US

A separate report published today by WikiLeaks, based on communications intercepts made by British intelligence (GCHQ) and shared with the NSA, details the German government's position ahead of negotiations on a EU bailout plan for Greece. The report refers to an overview prepared by German Chancellery Director-General for EU Affairs Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut. Germany was, according to the intercept, opposed to giving a banking licence to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF); however, it would support a special IMF fund into which the BRICS nations would contribute to bolster European bailout activities. The report also cites Meyer-Landrut's belief that a resolution to the Greek crisis would require greater private-sector involvement. He believed a full-term team would have to be placed in Athens to monitor the situation.

NSA economic espionage extends as far back as the Clinton Presidency

The NSA high-priority German target list makes clear a US emphasis on intercepting the communications of government offices and political officials dealing with economic, commerce and even agricultural policy. The earliest targets on the list date from as far back as the Clinton Presidency, which added Oskar Lafontaine, who was German Finance Minister from 1998 to 1999. The target selectors also include Werner Muller, German Federal Minister for Economics 1998-2002; Barbara Hendricks, former Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Finance and current Federal Minister for the Environment; and Ida-Maria Aschenbrenner, Head of Office of Minister of Finance Theo Waigel from 1989 to 1998. Target selectors include ministers, their staff, and groups working on preparations for meetings of the G7 and the WTO. One of the included selectors is a phone number at the European Central Bank. The list even includes central switchboards for key departments and fax numbers.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said: "Today's publication further demonstrates that the United States' economic espionage campaign extends to Germany and to key European institutions and issues such as the European Central Bank and the crisis in Greece. Our publication today also shows how the UK is assisting the US to spy on issues central to Europe. Would France and Germany have proceeded with the BRICS bailout plan for Greece if this intelligence was not collected and passed to the United States -- who must have been horrified at the geopolitical implications?"

-Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison and Kristinn Hrafnsson

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