German intelligence services cooperated with the spy network of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, a former top official said on Sunday, after documents emerged appearing to show links between the CIA, MI6 and Libya.
Bernd Schmidbauer, coordinator of Germany's secret services between 1991 and 1998, told the Bild am Sonntag weekly: "It revolved mainly around information about the fight against terrorism and therefore Germany's security interests."
"The Libyan security service had access to sources that the Germans did not have. Thanks to these sources, we were able to defend ourselves against terrorist threats to our country," added Schmidbauer.
However, he stressed that Germany did not carry out joint operations with the Libyan spies, as the British and American intelligence services appear to have done. "We did not cross this line," he said.
Germany's current government declined to say whether this cooperation had continued in recent years.
"As in all affairs relating to intelligence, we do not comment," a government spokesman told AFP.
Files unearthed from Gaddafi's intelligence archives and seen by AFP appear to document deep cooperation between the CIA, MI6 and the former Libyan regime, including the shipping of terror suspects for interrogation.
In fresh revelations from documents obtained by media and rights groups in Tripoli, Britain's Sunday Times said London invited two of Gaddafi's sons to the headquarters of the SAS special forces unit in 2006 as former premier Tony Blair tried to build ties with the Libyan regime.