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U.S. Justice Department Upset About German Investigation of NSA Spying

June 5, 2014 (EIRNS)—The federal prosecutor of Germany yesterday announced that he will open an investigation into charges that the NSA spied on Merkel’s phone, on grounds that this involves a potential serious crime that needs to be prosecuted. The prosecutor is dropping, however, the plan for investigating also the mass-spying of the NSA on phones and e-mails of the population in general.

Since the prosecutor hinted that there was "new evidence" on the NSA affair which forces him to take up the case, there is speculation in Germany that some Russian hand is active in that too, because he also said that Edward Snowden might play a role as a witness in the investigative activities. There were also rumors today that Patrick Sensburg, the chairman of the Bundestag special investigation committee on the NSA and GCHQ, may fly to Moscow for a preparatory meeting with Snowden.

The announcement of the investigation has angered the U.S. Justice Department, which declared that it opposes the action, arguing that this was a case for "diplomatic channels" rather than a broadly-publicized affair. The DOJ is upset, sources in Washington say, because the announcement of the German prosecutor came while Obama is in Europe. The German Justice Ministry denied there was any connection, it was within the legal independence of the Federal prosecutor to act or not, as it saw fit. Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Kornblum has come to the aid of Obama, saying in a radio interview this morning that it was highly illusionary to think that Obama could ever be summoned to testify, to the German authorities.

Douwe Korff, however, a London-based expert on international law, who has also testified before the special investigation committee, called the NSA tapping of phones in Germany a grave violation of international law, which German authorities, who are obliged to protect their citizens, have to move against. As for the British GCHQ, Korff recommended a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice, which—although he is skeptical about the judges there—would increase the pressure on the government in London to change things.