Germany: no damage to US relations from spy affair

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BERLIN (AP) — The German government said Friday that it doesn't expect questions about its spy agency's cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency to damage relations with Washington.

The government faces scrutiny over reports that the Federal Intelligence Service, known by its acronym BND, may have known of, or even helped, U.S. spying on European companies and officials as long ago as 2008.

German media have reported that the BND this week stopped sharing some internet surveillance data from a German spy station with the NSA — something that neither government nor spy agency would comment on.

Government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said that German-U.S. relations are "marked by great trust" and consultations with Washington on questions from German lawmakers are "not something that will jolt German-American relations in any way."

German weekly Der Spiegel has reported that the BND for years monitored telecoms traffic using filters provided by the NSA, and that by 2008 German intelligence agents discovered that some of the filters — known as selectors — related to European arms companies and French authorities.

The government has faced scrutiny over what the chancellery, to which the intelligence agency answers, knew of the BND's activities, and when. It issued a statement last month acknowledging "shortcomings" at the agency.

The German government is consulting the U.S. on whether it can release the list of selectors to a parliamentary panel that oversees the intelligence services and is sworn to secrecy.

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