Chaos Computer Club Files Criminal Complaint Against German Government

"We accuse," announced the CCC yesterday, "US, British and German secret agents, their supervisors, the German Minister of the Interior as well as the German Chancelor of illegal and prohibited covert intelligence activities, of aiding and abetting of those activities, of violation of the right to privacy and obstruction of justice in office by bearing and cooperating with the electronic surveillance of German citizens by NSA and GCHQ."

CCC believes that the mass surveillance of German citizens by NSA and GCHQ contravenes German federal law, and that it "has learned with certainty that the leaders of the secret services and the federal government have aided and abetted the commission of these crimes."

The intention, says the CCC – which filed the complaint together with the International League for Human Rights (ILMR) – is to force a criminal investigation into NSA and GCHQ spying, and any German government involvement in it. "Our laws protect us and threatens those responsible for such surveillance with punishment. Therefore an investigation by the Federal Prosecutor General is necessary and mandatory by law – and a matter of course," commented Dr. Julius Mittenzwei, an attorney and long time member of the CCC.

It is not, however, certain that the complaint will instigate an investigation. CIO notes that a spokeswoman for the federal court of justice declined to commit. "Therefore," it reports, "the attorney general has asked the relevant federal authorities to share their knowledge about the operations to achieve a secure factual basis for examining the initial suspicion, she said. But because not all the necessary comments are available it is too early to make a final decision about a formal criminal investigation, she said."

It may be that this is just the initial exchange before the complaint is escalated to the European court, which requires that all attempts at redress nationally must be exhausted before it will consider complaints itself. This is exactly what happened in the UK before Big Brother Watch, English PEN, The Open Rights Group and Dr Constanze Kurz (a supporter of CCC) took its own complaint against the UK and GCHQ to Europe in October 2013.

Last month the European Court indicated that it would hear the complaint, and has written to the UK government for its comments.

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