Among the many untruths propagated by the Snowden Operation is the notion that the National Security Agency is busy spying on private firms to seek economic advantage for the United States. In Germany especially, this caused a firestorm of controversy, with many believing that Germany’s powerful economy is at risk from American espionage against German industry.
Left-wingers in Berlin grew sufficiently worried about this issue that they asked the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s counterintelligence agency, to investigate the matter. Their assessment has been obtained by the Berlin daily Die Welt, which reported its findings today. The BfV is aware of some 200 cases of potential or actual espionage against German firms since 2005. However, in only in a few of those cases did the counterspies find “concrete evidence” of intelligence service involvement in industrial espionage.
Many such cases involved Chinese individuals and firms, but given their possible ties to governing structures in Beijing, it was difficult for German counterspies to determine what was private data theft or the work of an intelligence entity operating through a cut-out. In the BfV’s words: “Because of the close links between the industry and the state, for example, in the People’s Republic of China, it is difficult to differentiate whether the industrial spying was done on behalf of the state or competing foreign companies or private persons acting on their behalf.”
The question of American involvement in industrial espionage against German firms was investigated closely by the BfV, which came to this conclusion: “There is currently no concrete evidence of potential involvement of U.S. intelligence services in espionage attacks on German companies,” adding, “the U.S. Government has assured the Federal Government several times that its services do not conduct economic espionage.”
Instead, according to the BfV, known cases of industrial espionage since 2005 have “almost exclusively” involved spying by China and Russia. “The companies have not reported any indications of spying activities by Western countries,” reported German counterintelligence.