APRIL 30, 2015
Germany Is Accused of Helping N.S.A. Spy on European Allies
By MELISSA EDDY
BERLIN -- Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is fending off allegations that the German secret service helped the United States to spy on European partners and companies, nearly a year after Ms. Merkel expelled the top American spy  in a rare display of anger over revelations of widespread United States intelligence operations in Germany.
Over the past week, the German news media has reported that the country's foreign intelligence agency, known by its German initials, B.N.D., gathered information on European companies at the behest of the United States National Security Agency for years, citing confidential documents and government experts.
The aviation giant Airbus said Thursday that it had filed a legal complaint against unknown persons over acts of criminal espionage and was seeking information from the German government in the wake of the reports. On Monday, the newspaper Bild named the aviation company as a target of the American agency.
"We are aware that as a major player in this industry we are a target for intelligence activities. In this particular case there appears to be a reasonable suspicion of alleged industrial espionage," Airbus said in an emailed statement. "We are alarmed by this."
Germans hold privacy in high regard, given their history of police states under the Nazis and, in the old East Germany, the Communist Party. In 2013, the country displayed a collective outrage over revelations that American intelligence agencies had been monitoring Ms. Merkel's cellphone conversations  and German telecommunications.
The German news media have further said that the Merkel government knew of cooperation between the B.N.D. and the American spy services, but withheld that information from a parliamentary committee assigned to investigate the affair.
The chancellor says her office, which oversees B.N.D. operations, has cooperated fully with the lawmakers' inquiry, but one of her strongest allies, Thomas de Maiziere, who was Ms. Merkel's chief of staff from 2005 to 2009, is facing allegations that he lied to Parliament  about cooperation with American intelligence agencies.
"I strongly reject allegations the government did not tell the truth," Steffen Seibert, Ms. Merkel's spokesman said Wednesday. Mr. Maiziere, now the interior minister, has consistently denied misleading Parliament.
In the latest round of revelations, the daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday that B.N.D. helped the United States spy on high-ranking members of France's Foreign Ministry and presidency, as well as on the European Commission.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the commission, said in Brussels that investigating the allegations was a matter for the German Parliament. "The German authorities will have to deal with that and I suppose that they will do so," Mr. Juncker said.
Mr. Juncker came under scrutiny last year  over allegations in the news media that more than 300 companies benefited from preferential tax deals with Luxembourg during the nearly two decades he was that country's prime minister.
"I know from personal experience that they are very difficult to be kept under control," Mr. Juncker said, wryly adding that amid all the rumors of spies in Brussels, "the commission should have a secret service."
Nicola Clark contributed reporting from Paris.