Germany's top court mulls limits on spy agency's powers


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BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court is considering imposing stricter limits on the activities of the country's foreign intelligence agency.

The Federal Constitutional Court was due Tuesday to hear a lawsuit brought by a group of journalists and a human rights lawyer against a new law regulating the powers of the BND spy agency.

The plaintiffs, including the campaign group Reporters Without Borders, say the 2017 law potentially exposes journalists to surveillance without due cause — such as when making phone calls with foreign colleagues.

They cite a report three years ago by German weekly Der Spiegel that the BND had at least 50 numbers and email addresses of foreign journalists among its surveillance targets.

The German government argues that additional limits on the agency's powers would make it harder to respond to potential crises and threats.

By law, the BND has to automatically delete recordings of German citizens' conversations picked up by the spy agency's mass surveillance operations abroad.

The Karlsruhe-based court is expected to hold two days of hearings and deliver a verdict in the coming months.

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