America's National Security Agency works closely with Germany and other Western states on a 'no questions asked'-basis, former NSA employee Edward Snowden said in comments that undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel's indignant talk of "Cold War" tactics.
"They are in bed with the Germans, just like with most other Western states," German magazine Der Spiegel quotes him as saying in an interview published on Sunday that was carried out before he fled to Hong Kong in May and divulged details of extensive secret U.S. surveillance.
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"Other agencies don't ask us where we got the information from and we don't ask them. That way they can protect their top politicians from the backlash in case it emerges how massively people's privacy is abused worldwide," he said.
His comments about cooperation with governments overseas, which he said were led by the NSA's Foreign Affairs Directorate, appear to contradict the German government's show of surprise at the scale of the U.S. electronic snooping.
Germany has demanded explanations for Snowden's allegations of large-scale spying by the NSA, and by Britain via a program code-named 'Tempora', on their allies including Germany and other European Union states, as well as EU institutions and embassies.
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Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out during President Barack Obama's recent visit that Germany had avoided terrorist attacks thanks to information from allies. But she says there must be limits to the intrusion on privacy and wants this discussed next week in parallel with the start of EU-U.S. free trade talks.