Ever since NSA whistleblower Snowden spilled the beans on the US eavesdropping on its allies, several countries around the world have started upping their own scanners and questioning their allies’ security motives. The most recent nation to feel this heat happens to be Britain, which has started facing a barrage of questions from Germany in regards to the alleged “secret Berlin listening post” it has set up in its embassy in Berlin.
The embassy is located right next to the German parliament, the Brandenburg Gate and Angela Merkel’s group of government offices. The alleged eavesdropping post is said to be located on the roof of the embassy, putting it in a prime position to capture important information from the neighboring buildings.
Following these allegations, Germany has demanded an explanation from the British embassy, and asked the British ambassador, Simon McDonald to attend a meeting in order to explain these claims which were published by The Independent. These claims have purportedly been lifted from aerial photographs and leaked documents that were revealed by the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.
The incident follows Germany’s dispute with the US over the alleged tapping of Chancellor Mrs. Merkel’s phone by American Intelligence. And if reports are to be believed, then Britain has joined US in the list of nations not favored by Germany.
The German Foreign Minister has reportedly asked Mr. McDonald to meet the German diplomat who is responsible for relations with the European countries in order to provide an appropriate explanation for the current reports doing the rounds in the British media. It is said that Mr. McDonald was also reprised of the severity of the situation and how, if the reports were true, it would become a violation of international laws.
Accordingly, the Vienna Convention of 1961 Act states that the nation would protect a foreign embassy and its staff, and render it immune to government affairs. However, Article 41 of the same convention states that foreign diplomats must respect the laws and regulations of the specific receiving state, and should not interfere in the state’s internal affairs. The article also states that the embassy should in no way, be used in a manner that renders it incompatible with the general functions of the mission. Article 10 in the constitution also guarantees the absolute privacy of posts, letters and telecommunications. The German Foreign Minister has clearly stated that proven instances of
Eavesdropping would mean the British embassy had violated these clauses.
Mr. McDonald’s meeting with the German diplomat has been confirmed by a foreign spokesperson. However, the exact details of what transpired behind closed doors remain undisclosed. What many believe though, is that the Berlin listening post atop the British embassy (allegedly run by GCHQ) may have come up as soon as the US had stopped its surveillance of Mrs. Merkel’s phone.
Many others, on the other hand, believe that the listening post would have been set up to monitor the activities of other foreign allies, like Russia, whose embassy is also located just one street away. There are also speculations that the alleged listening post may have actually been set up in close cooperation with the existing German intelligece service which is known for its highly intelligent and sophisticated capabilities. And if that is the case, then the concern shown by the German government would only be superficial.