• Germany's news in English
 
'The USA knows that for us spying is a crime'
Obama with Merkel in Berlin on June 19th 2013. There has been a mixed reaction in Germany to his speech over the NSA's future. Photo: DPA

'The USA knows that for us spying is a crime'

Published: 20 Jan 2014 12:31 GMT+01:00

Parliamentary chairman of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) Thomas Oppermann said on Monday: “A 'no spy' treaty must come. Obama’s speech on Friday can only be the beginning. The USA knows that spying for us is a crime.”

“The German justice system will not stand idly by if the efforts of the NSA blithely continue here,” he told Bild newspaper on Monday.

Magazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday that the Federal Attorney General, Harald Range, told the country’s Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, that there were grounds for a criminal investigation into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone by the US National Securtiy Agency (NSA).

And it appears the Minister of Justice, who is authorized to give orders to the Federal Attorney General, would not block an investigation. A spokeswoman for the Ministry confirmed on Sunday: "The Federal Prosecutor decides completely independently."

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Parliament, Norbert Röttgen, also criticized Obama’s speech but said he wanted to avoid harming the German-US relationship further.

 “I have one criticism. Are secret services allowed to do anything that is technically possible? Obama basically affirmed this was the case,” he told broadcaster ZDF.

“We have a real problem, but I’m against an escalation,” the politician from Merkel’s CDU party added.

Meanwhile interior minister Thomas de Mazière welcomed Obama’s reforms in an interview on Sunday with television channel ARD. "It was a good and important speech and we welcome the progress," he said.

And Germany’s media greeted Obama’s statement with a mixture of hope and disdain.

The Berliner Morgenpost wrote: “Finally the American President seems to have grasped the extent of the breach of trust caused by the mass spying of his intelligence services.

“He has declared he will reduce the massive collection of data both at home and abroad and that heads of state and government will now be allowed to have a phone conversation undisturbed, but on the condition that the national security of the USA does not require [listening in].

“That leaves many questions wide open…The speech on Friday was, so far, little more than a glimmer of hope.”

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel asked: “What will change for non-Americans? They should rest assured that their rights will be better protected, says Obama. But who will guarantee that – and who will check it?

“The White House will in future determine which governments should be monitored, not the NSA. But there will be no end to the practice of spying itself. In all, Obama has disappointed the expectations of many Germans. That should not surprise us. He is the President of Americans and they think differently and carry on using the, from their perspective, traditional methods, indifferent to outrage abroad.”

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said: “It is evidently not the case that the US President does not care about the international outcry over the spying of the secret service the NSA and the criticism from his own country – regardless of which he takes the most seriously.

“The big surveillance net will no longer simply be swung across the land, the population and the world, as long as Congress passes the proposals. This will not be enough for civil rights organizations, but it is more than was expected. And it is sure to annoy the secret services.”

Volksstimme Magdeburg said: “At first sight, it seemed as if US President Obama would get through to his intelligence services, after the outrageous revelations on surveillance practices of his intelligence services.

“He would stop the huge collection of communicative data, the private sphere and the civil rights of all people should be better protected. And Obama is even expressly banning his secret services from spying on heads of government.

“But on a closer examination, Obama’s speech turns out to be a placebo for his critics, the effects of which will not last for long. When it comes to a matter of national security, the intelligence services are allowed to continue spying…Obama points out, quite reasonably, that surveillance must be permitted to prevent acts of terrorism. And yet it was under just this cloak that the mass collection of the NSA first started.”

READ MORE: Obama tells Merkel to not worry about spying

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Robots woo crowds at Hannover trade fair
Photo: DPA

Robots woo crowds at Hannover trade fair

Collaborative robots and intelligent machinery may have wowed the crowds at this year's Hannover Messe, but experts see German industry as having some way to go towards incorporating them on factory floors in what could become the fourth industrial revolution. READ  

Thousands protest EU-US trade talks
Photo: DPA

Thousands protest EU-US trade talks

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Europe on Saturday to oppose the world's biggest free trade pact between the US and European Union. READ  

EU-US trade talks prompt German ire
Photo: DPA

EU-US trade talks prompt German ire

In much of Europe any mention of TTIP might receive a blank stare, in Germany the proposed US-EU free trade pact is likely to prompt a volley of angry words. READ  

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record
Photo: DPA

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record

Oskar Gröning, 93, a former Nazi known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz", goes on trial in Germany on Tuesday in what could be the last Nazi war crimes trial while an expert calls the country's judicial record 'miserable'. READ  

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots
Photo: DPA

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots

The general manager of Turkish Airlines has urged single pilots to marry, after the Germanwings tragedy blamed on a pilot with psychological problems. READ  

Germany and Greece
'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'
Thanasis Glavinas outside one of the German parliament's buildings. Photo: Private

'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'

With the war of words – and cashflows – between Greece and Germany showing no sign of dying down, The Local meets one young Greek who's come to see what the Germans have to teach about running a country successfully. READ  

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations
'Loitz doesn't need any asylum seekers' reads the graffiti. Photo:DPA

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called on Friday for state governments to speed up deportations of failed asylum applicants, in the latest round in a war of words between the federal government and the states. READ  

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours
Photo: DPA

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has dodged a broadside from company chairman Ferdinand Piech which many thought would unseat him from the troubled car maker. Instead, the steering committee has offered him an extension to his contract. READ  

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola
Tension on the touchline: Guardiola, Schweinsteiger and Müller-Wohlfahrt Photo: DPA

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola

The resignation of iconic club doctor Hans-Willhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt on Thursday evening threatens to unleash internal chaos at Bayern Munich after their Champions League humiliation at the hands of FC Porto. READ  

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline
An InterCity train in Hannover's main train station. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn has until 3 pm on Friday to respond to demands from the Train Drivers' Union (GDL) for a "reasonable provisional result" in talks over pay, conditions and union representation. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,227
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd