A German MP who recently met with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Moscow is to meet with ISC head Sir Malcolm Rifkind in London today and has asked the UK Security Agencies to release any information they have gathered on him while spying in Germany.
Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green party MP and the longest serving member of the parliamentary committee responsible for oversight of the German intelligence services, spoke at a hearing in the UK Parliament yesterday at the invitation of Tom Watson MP. Mr Ströbele discussed recent revelations that the British have been spying on German chancellor Angela Merkel and that RAF Croughton in Lincolnshire has been used to relay data collected from Germany to the US. The British airbase has recently been at the centre of controversy over its role in facilitating CIA drone strikes in Yemen.
Mr Ströbele, who noted in Parliament that espionage of any sort is illegal in Germany – whether against friend or foe – will today meet with the head of the Intelligence and Security Committee Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Yesterday Mr Ströbele made written requests – known as subject access requests – to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ asking that they reveal any information they have gathered about him to which he is entitled under the Data Protection Act of 1998. The request asks for information “including but not limited to, any information either of a professional or personal nature that you may have obtained through surveillance conducted in Berlin by either the British intelligence services and/or the US.”
The hearing was chaired by Julian Huppert MP, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, and had cross party attendance from both houses.
Despite limited scrutiny of their actions, the UK’s intelligence services are embroiled in increasing controversy over their role in various counter-terrorism operations. Recent revelations in The Mail on Sunday showed that data that passed through RAF Croughton was potentially used in illegal targeted killings carried out in Yemen by the US drone programme.
The legal charity Reprieve is also currently in court against the UK government on behalf of Noor Khan, a Pakistani man whose father was killed in a 2011 drone strike. Mr Khan is suing the UK for GCHQ’s role in providing intelligence to the US.
Clare Algar, Reprieve’s Executive Director, said: “From rendering a heavily pregnant woman to Gaddafi’s torture chambers, to providing intelligence that lets the CIA kill innocent civilians in drone strikes, parts of the UK’s security services have been running amok in the name of counter-terrorism for years now. And yet still the Government refuses to engage in any real scrutiny over their actions. MP Ströbele has given a stark warning to us all – David Cameron must heed this and start putting in place some proper oversight and accountability for the services’ actions.”
Hans-Christian Ströbele said: “The British do not worry about what their security services are doing because they do not have the same history that we do in Germany. Maybe if Mr Cameron was – or discovered he was – being spied on he would start to worry and implement some proper oversight of the intelligence agencies.”