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German data surveillance includes Finland

According to leaked German intelligence documents, German intelligence agency BND monitored phone calls and possibly Internet traffic to and from Finland in the 2000s -- possibly at the behest of the American security agency, the NSA.

Kuvakaappaus listasta.
Image: Yle Graphics Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

At least 6 Finnish transit lines were monitored in the mid-2000s by German intelligence agency BND, according to leaked German intelligence documents.

The list was leaked to Austrian politician and member of parliament Peter Pilz, who published the first part the list in May 2015. According to Pilz, the leaked list was around 2005 and was part of the German and American surveillance operation Eikonal.

"Operation Eikonal" gathered telephone and Internet data between 2004 and 2008, in co-operation with the American security agency, the NSA.

The German surveillance list -- 256 foreign transit lines from 31 European countries were monitored -- was made public last October in Slovenia’s investigative journalism programme Epilog. At that time, the list brought into light unknown details regarding Finland.

According to the list, six transit lines were monitored: Helsinki-Paris, Brussels-Helsinki, Helsinki-Shanghai, Budapest-Helsinki, Helsinki-Luxembourg and Helsinki-Reims.

Supo responds

Finnish Security Intelligence Service Supo said that generally speaking, it comes as no surprise if it Finnish lines had been monitored.

"We know that Finland has been surveilled on those dates," says Supo's inspector general Tuomas Portaankorva, "but we’re not taking a stance on these particular documents."

According to Supo, from the material presented it is not possible to determine whether the focus of surveillance was indeed Finland.

"It focuses on Internet lines that have Finland at one end or the other, but not necessarily the Finnish state," says Portaankorva.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Foreign Ministry says that "at this stage" it is not the right official body to assess the situation.

"If there is any reason to suspect that these actions were directed at the Finnish state, we would undertake appropriate action," says Vesa Häkkinen from the Foreign Ministry.

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