We have found no smoking gun. We would have liked to draw the yellow card.”
German Security expert
German Intelligence Agencies have conducted a year-long investigation searching for clear evidence of Russia’s political interference in Germany. They found no conclusive evidence. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
There have been persistent rumors that Russia could intervene in the German elections, for example by publishing secret documents. Such rumors are of course fueled by repeated but unproven claims of Vladimir Putin-backed interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
Last year, a high-profile “fake news” case raised suspicion in Germany. A Russian-German 13 year-old girl named Lisa sparked far-right protests—stoked by outrage from Russian politicians and media—after she claimed that she had been raped by migrants. The story was simply not true. Similar stories have been reported in other European countries.
In December 2016 BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen accused Moscow of trying to destabilize Germany via cyberattacks and propaganda ahead of the 2017 elections.
Earlier this year, I told you that:
Bruno Kahl, president of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, has warned that the next general election could be targeted by Russian hackers.
“We have evidence that cyber-attacks are taking place that have no purpose other than to elicit political uncertainty,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in his first interview since he was appointed five months ago.
“The perpetrators are interested in delegitimising the democratic process as such, regardless of who that ends up helping. We have indications that [the attacks] come from the Russian region.
“Being able to attribute it to a state agent is technically difficult but there is some evidence that this is at least tolerated or desired by the state.”
Hans-Georg Maaßen, president of the domestic BfV intelligence agency, said in an interview that cyberspace had become “a place of hybrid warfare” in which Russia was a key player.
The investigation was commissioned by Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is hardly surprising as fears of foreign or far-right influence in politics are high among Germany’s mainstream politicians ahead of a 2017 September election likely to be dominated by two issues: security and migration.
Report and ‘Findings’
The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the Federal Office for Constitutional Protection (BfV) found no evidence that the protests were orchestrated by Russian government or intelligence agencies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not deliberately trying to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of her impending re-election campaign – or at least, if he is, he is hiding his tracks well. That’s the inconclusive conclusion that Germany’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies came to last fall, following several months of investigation which was delivered to Merkel’s chief-of-staff Peter Altmaier in the form of a 50-page report. [DW]
The security agencies were initially planning to — at least partially — disclose their findings Given the lack of evidence, the 50-page paper will however not be published.
The Chancellor’s Office has requested the BND and the BfV to pursue the investigation.
A few comments
I will not attempt to make sense of this rather bizarre chain of events: first accuse, then investigate. I will just offer a few comments.
WikiLeaks just tweeted the following:
Fair enough… But I am afraid that things could be a bit more complex. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The revelation by Snowden of a massive surveillance program has deeply impacted the German society for German people remember what it means. NAZIs and STASI come to mind.
A recent investigation showed that the use of just one project — XKeyscore — by the German Agency BND violates dozens of Laws and the Constitution.
Why was this report leaked to the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’? Remember that Merkel is proposing a reform of the Intelligence Agencies and that some ‘Landers’ are strongly opposed to such move.
Moreover, the ongoing relationship between MI6 and the BND has been described as the worst ever since WW II. The reasons are not entirely clear.
And finally, does anyone really believe that Putin wants to get rid of Angela Merkel? For all I know, there is an old story about ‘the Devil you know’…
UPDATE (09/02/2017) Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Interview on RT
BND: Keine Beweise für Desinformations-Kampagne Putins