German Chancellor Angela Merkel vehemently denied the country is a “surveillance state” after a magazine reported her government used a top U.S. National Security Agency spy program.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday on Germany’s utilization of an NSA system known as XKeyScore, which allows an agency to gather all of the unfiltered data a targeted individual has accessed over a specific period of time.
The XKeyScore program can, for instance, “retroactively reveal any terms the target person has typed into a search engine,” DerSpiegel wrote in citing documents seen by its reporters.
Additionally, the magazine said the system “is able to receive a ‘full take’ of all unfiltered data over a period of several days -- including, at least in part, the content of communications.”
According to the Der Spiegel report, in Afghanistan, Germany had proved to be the NSA's "most prolific partner."
Both the BND and BfV, Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence bureaus, respectively, would not comment on their employment of XKeyScore, according to Der Spiegel.
Apparently, the NSA declined to comment, as well, referring instead to President Barack Obama's statement on the topic, made during a recent visit to Berlin, that there was nothing to add.
Obama, during the visit, said, “What I explained to Chancellor Merkel is that I came into office committed to protecting the American people but also committed to our highest values and ideals, including privacy and civil liberties. I’m confident at this point that we have struck the appropriate balance,” The Washington Post reported.
Merkel reportedly told various media outlets, present at her traditional summer press conference, “Germany is a country of freedom,” and that sometimes, with regards to counterterrorism and espionage, “the ends don’t justify the means.”
Merkel was replying, specifically, to inquiries regarding Germany’s use of PRISM, another NSA program, a mass data-collection system whose existence was leaked this spring by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden fled America, where officials have charged him with espionage and theft of government property, on May 20, and he is now reportedly holed up in Russia.
According to Agence France-Presse, Merkel said during the conference she wasn’t up to speed on the details of Germany’s PRISM use, and that her government was still awaiting answers from American officials.
"I want to say right away and very clearly that those who came here today expecting me to present the conclusions to our inquiries came here with false expectations," Merkel reportedly said. "The task is not finished."