• 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
Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'
Sudeten Germans practising traditional dance at a gathering in 2014. Photo: DPA

Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'

The Sudeten German Homeland Association has given up its claim to the group's former home in parts of the Czech Republic, quieting one of the final echoes of the Second World War. READ  

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan
Families Minister Manuela Schwesig. Photo: DPA

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan

Families Minister Manuela Schwesig confirmed on Sunday that she wants a new law allowing women to compare their wages with men doing similar work, provoking angry reactions from employers. READ  

Police wind down Bremen terror response
Heavily-armed police on patrol outside Bremen cathedral. Photo: DPA

Police wind down Bremen terror response

Police in Bremen said that the risk of a terrorist attack had been reduced in the city after they arrested two suspected arms dealers. The city remains under high alert, with special protection for the Jewish community. READ  

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone
Photo: DPA

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday Greece's new hard-left government needs "a bit of time" but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. READ  

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo
Photo: DPA

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo

An estimated 375 people turned out for the Germany-based PEGIDA movement's first demonstration in Britain on Saturday, but were outnumbered by a 2,000-strong crowd of counter-protesters, police said. READ  

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote
Photo: DPA

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Friday to "start working hard" to implement vital reforms in the stricken eurozone country, after Germany's parliament approved a four month extension to its bailout. READ  

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce
Photo: DPA

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the killing of three government troops by pro Moscow rebels a "serious breach of the ceasefire", during a telephone call Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her office said. READ  

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps. READ  

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,199
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd