Steinmeier accused of “see no evil, hear no evil” policy on torture

EPA/ARNO BURGI

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) hands over a 'Buddy Bear' statue as a gift to Democratic party Senator Edward Kennedy (C), at the 'Kennedy Presidential Library' in Boston, 12 April 2008.

Whilst he was not the only one to look the other way, Steinmeier is currently the Foreign Minister of Germany


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If confirmed, the documents released by WikiLeaks reveal that an acting Foreign Minister was willing to look the other way on torture.

WikiLeaks published on Monday evidence that the National Security Agency (NSA)was spying on Germany’s current Foreign Minister and former Vice Chancellor from 1998 to 2005, Mr. Steinmeier.

The NSA has spied consistently on all German Foreign Ministers, even prior to 9/11, according to intercepts published on Monday.

German officials have been spied upon by the NSA include Jurgen Borsch, of the Foreign Ministry’s Crisis Response Center; Commissioner for International Energy Policy, Viktor Ebling; Director for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs (in 2008-2011), Bernhard Von Waldersee; Secretary of State at the Foreign Office from 2008-2011, Peter Ammon.

Central to Monday’s publication is an NSA intercept of Minister Steinmeier dated 29 November 2005, where FM Steinmeier met his US counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The intercept describes Minister Steinmeier as “relieved” for not having a definitive response from the U.S. Secretary of State,  Condoleezza Rice, on press reports regarding CIA flights through Germany to secret prisons in eastern Europe.

These clandestine “rendition flights” conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used German and other European airspace and airports to carry individuals to “black site” prisons for questioning, often using techniques described as torture. On occasion, this included prisoners that were European citizens.

After the scandal emerged, many European governments, including Germany, denied knowledge of such practices, continuing to cooperate with the United States while denying all knowledge, on a “see no evil, hear no evil” basis. At the time, CIA rendition flights through Germany were publicly dismissed as “unconfirmed” by German authorities.

In effect, WikiLeaks is offering evidence that Germany was in the category of states that did not want to know, along with Italy, Sweden, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey.

 

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