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Germans 'spied' on Afghan ministers

world Updated: Apr 27, 2008 01:49 IST

Kabul believes Germany’s foreign intelligence service may have spied on several Afghan ministers, a newspaper said Saturday, following news the agency illicitly monitored the economy minister’s emails.

Besides having spied on emails between minister Mohammad Amin Farhang and a reporter for the German news weekly Der Spiegel, the Afghan government also believes Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) also listened in on Farhang’s telephone conversations and may have spied on his colleagues, the regional Mitteldeutsche Zeitung reported.

That half a dozen Afghan ministers speak German may have “facilitated the BND’s work,” the newspaper wrote.

Der Spiegel reported on Thursday Farhang had been the ultimate target of a spying operation that also involved one of its journalists.

The incident sparked Farhang’s ire, and sharp criticism by a German parliamentary commission against the BND and its chief Ernst Urlau for undermining faith in the agency.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Saturday telephoned his Afghan counterpart Rangeen Dadfar Spanta and expressed regret over the spying of emails between Farhang and the journalist, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

She said the two sides agreed that bilateral ties would not be affected by the incident. Urlau apologised to the Der Spiegel journalist in question, Susanne Koelbl, whose emails were read by BND agents from June to November 2006.