Tag Archives: Germany

US Army used deadly viruses in Europe exercises…

Via

German newspaper Bild found that the US military used deadly anthrax spores in chemical weapons defense training on a military base in Germany.

In an article with the headline “US Army operated biological weapons in Germany,” Berlin daily Bild revealed that the US military used deadly live anthrax spores in military exercises.

The investigation revealed that several of the US military exercises on German soil involved “incidents” in which live anthrax spores were released. The incidents took place in the town of Landstuhl, near France, Luxembourg and the Ramstein military base. The US military previously sent live anthrax spores to South Korea.

The German defense ministry told the newspaper that the spores were not sent to any German military laboratories. The US military previously admitted that since 2005 it sent anthrax spores to South Korea, Australia and Canada, but not Germany.

“According to current information, Bundeswehr servicemen were not put in danger,” the German defense ministry claimed in an inquiry to Bild.

The spores were supposed to be neutralized at the Dugway Proving Ground in the US state of Utah before being sent to the exercises, but the incident made “some spores even more active,” according to the newspaper.

Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant…

Via

A robot has killed a contractor at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany, the automaker said Wednesday.

The man died Monday at the plant in Baunatal, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Frankfurt, VW spokesman Heiko Hillwig said.

The 22-year-old was part of a team that was setting up the stationary robot when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate, Hillwig said.

He said initial conclusions indicate that human error was to blame, rather than a problem with the robot, which can be programmed to perform various tasks in the assembly process. He said it normally operates within a confined area at the plant, grabbing auto parts and manipulating them.

Another contractor was present when the incident occurred, but wasn’t harmed, Hillwig said. He declined to give any more details about the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

German news agency dpa reported that prosecutors were considering whether to bring charges, and if so, against whom.

German government sent Saudi Arabia arms shipment in exchange for their support of Germany hosting 2006 World Cup…

Via

The German government sent Saudi Arabia a shipment of rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) to persuade the kingdom to support Germany’s bid to host 2006 World Cup, German media say.

German newspaper Die Zeit reported on Thursday that then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder authorized the shipment a week before the vote in 2000 to swing the Saudi vote from Morocco to Germany, with the arrangement made by the German Football Association, The Daily Mail reported on Friday.

The arm shipment, allegedly, helped Germany narrowly defeat South Africa 12-11 in the final round to host the 2006 World Cup.

The RPGs have been part of a planned effort made by politicians and business leaders of Germany to convince FIFA’s executive committee members to vote in their favor, Die Zeit further added.

The report published in the wake of confessions made by Chuck Blazer, a former member of the FIFA Executive Committee, who admitted, on Wednesday, that he received bribes to vote for South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup.

Earlier, a scandal involving some senior FIFA officials made public. The corruption case captured headlines on May 28, when Swiss authorities launched a raid on a gathering of senior FIFA members in Zurich, arresting seven of them.

The Swiss government said the raid was part of a probe led by the United States into corruption allegations against the FIFA officials.

A separate probe has been launched in Switzerland into the granting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup events to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

In a Tuesday press conference at FIFA’s headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich, FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his intention to step down as the head of the world’s governing body of football.

US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized…

Via

The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

“This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world,” the request notes.

The Zaire Ebola virus was the same strain of Ebola virus which has been rampaging through West Africa in recent months.

“The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses,” the cable notes.

However, it also points out that Germany has in place an “exceptionally restrictive policy,” adding that approval would not be granted to the export until US assurance was provided.

“A decision about the export has not yet been made. Given the foregoing, we would appreciate confirmation that the end use certificate really is from the Department of the Army and of the accuracy of the data contained therein,” the document stated.

There is no follow-up document available to confirm whether the US Army eventually provided Germany with the necessary guarantees.

Bioweapons were outlawed in the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and was signed and ratified by 179 signatories, including Germany, the US and Russia.

It dictates that signatories, “under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention” and “the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time.”

Top US spy in Germany, Ralph Goff, kicked out…

Via

The top US spy in Germany has departed the country. Authorities in Berlin had requested he leave amid a mounting controversy over American spying operations inside Germany.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Thursday left Germany reportedly from Frankfurt airport.

“We are confirming that the individual who was asked to leave the country last week is no longer in Germany,” said a US embassy spokesman. The news was also confirmed by a German foreign ministry spokesman.

Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and DPA news agency reported the Berlin station chief had boarded a US-bound flight at Frankfurt airport.

German authorities had last week ordered the agent to leave the country in the midst of a high-profile spying scandal. Federal prosecutors are currently investigating two German nationals – one working for the BND intelligence agency, the other a defense ministry employee – who are suspected of passing on secrets to the US.

It is the most high-profile diplomatic row between the two close NATO allies since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which Germany opposed.

Relations between Berlin and Washington have been especially tense over the past year amid the NSA spying scandal, which revealed the far-reaching extent to which the US has been monitoring communications inside of Germany, including tapping Merkel’s mobile phone.

Increasing transatlantic tensions

Merkel and US President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Tuesday for the first time since Germany issued the CIA agent’s expulsion order.

A White House account of the conversation said only that the two leaders had “exchanged views on US-German intelligence cooperation, and the President said he’d remain in close communication on ways to improve cooperation going forward.”

Merkel’s spokesman Steffan Seibert declined to comment on what he called a “confidential” conversation, but emphasized that Germany saw “deep differences of opinion on the issue of the activities of the US intelligence services.”

Kerry: still ‘great friends’

In an interview over the weekend, Merkel said the breakdown in US-Germany trust had returned the two to the thinking of the “Cold War era where everyone is suspicious of everyone.”

However, US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted after a meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier last Sunday in Vienna that the two countries remain “great friends.”

It is unclear what, if any, contact the CIA station chief had had with the two German nationals currently under investigation. Had he not obeyed Germany’s order to leave the country, he would have had his diplomatic accreditation stripped, forcing him to leave.

20140727-200750-72470065.jpg

“The Social Democratic party has reacted to the succession of scandals by urging the US to stop all of its espionage activity within Germany. Thomas Oppermann, the head of the SPD parliamentary group, told Der Spiegel: “It is a degrading spectacle to watch US spies being exposed on a weekly basis”

Via

German authorities are investigating the second case of a government employee suspected of spying on confidential government affairs for US secret services within a week.

Public prosecutors confirmed that the home and office of a defence ministry employee in the greater Berlin area had been searched on Wednesday morning.

They told the Guardian that a search had been conducted “under suspicion of secret agent activity” and that evidence – including computers and several data storage devices – had been seized for analysis. The federal prosecutor’s office confirmed that no arrest had yet been made.

According to Die Welt newspaper, the staffer being investigated is a soldier who had caught the attention of the German military counter-intelligence service after establishing regular contact with people thought to be working for a US secret agency.

The news came just days after a member of the German intelligence agency BND confessed to having passed more than 200 confidential files to a contact at the CIA.

The new case is not thought to be directly related to that of the BND staffer. However, one government insider familiar with the case told Süddeutsche Zeitung that the new case being investigated was “more serious” than that of the BND spy, in which the sold documents are thought to have been of limited value.

Last week’s spying scandal gave a detailed picture of how US security agencies manage to recruit foreign agents. The staffer, employed at the German intelligence agency’s department for foreign deployments, had managed to establish contact with the CIA after emailing the US embassy in Germany.

At a meeting in a Salzburg hotel, the CIA then equipped the BND employee with a specially encrypted laptop, which allowed the agent to keep in touch with the US secret service on a weekly basis: every time he opened a programme disguised as a weather app, a direct connection was established with a contact in America.

The BND employee, who is said to have a physical disability and a speech impediment, received around 25,000 euros (£20,000) for 218 confidential documents, though sources within the intelligence service told German newspapers that the 31-year-old had been motivated less by financial interests than by a craving for recognition.

After the CIA had apparently lost interest in him, he had offered his services to the Russian general consulate in Munich, inadvertently catching the attention of the German counter-espionage agency.

The Social Democratic party has reacted to the succession of scandals by urging the US to stop all of its espionage activity within Germany. Thomas Oppermann, the head of the SPD parliamentary group, told Der Spiegel: “It is a degrading spectacle to watch US spies being exposed on a weekly basis.” The politician warned that trust in America’s alliance with Germany could “collapse completely”.

US officials have been trying to limit the diplomatic fallout, with the CIA’s head, John Brennan, reportedly calling Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in the wake of the latest spying scandal.

Over the course of the last week, the US ambassador in Berlin has twice had to visit the German foreign ministry to explain his position on the matter. After being called in for an initial meeting last Friday, John Emerson returned to the ministry for a second meeting with a senior official on Wednesday.

In a speech on Tuesday, Emerson acknowledged that “we must acknowledge that the German-American relationship is now undergoing a difficult challenge”.

“The drug haul was unremarkable, but the destination raised eyebrows. German customs officials intercepted a shipment of cocaine destined for the Vatican”

Via

The drug haul was unremarkable, but the destination raised eyebrows.

German customs officials intercepted a shipment of cocaine destined for the Vatican in January, weekly Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.

Officers at Leipzig airport found 12 ounces of the drug packed into 14 condoms inside a shipment of cushions coming from South America, the paper, reported citing a German customs report. It said the package was simply addressed to the Vatican postal office, meaning any of the Catholic mini-state’s 800 residents could have picked it up.

The paper reported that a subsequent sting operation arranged with Vatican police failed to nab the intended recipient. No one claimed the package, indicating that he or she was tipped off about the plan. The drugs would have a street value of several tens of thousands of euros.

A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry, which oversees the customs office, confirmed the report. Prosecutors in Leipzig planned to issue a statement Monday providing further details, Martin Chaudhuri told The Associated Press.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the Vatican police had cooperated with German police in an attempt to identify the traffickers. He said the investigation remained open.