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INTELLIGENCE AGENCY PAID JOURNALISTS TO SPY ON COLLEAGUES

The German government has promised to launch a special inquiry into a scandal involving journalists who were paid by the federal intelligence agency to spy on their colleagues, say Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The German newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung" published a leaked confidential report by former federal judge Gerhard Schäfer on 12 May 2006, which revealed that six journalists were paid by the agency BND to collect information on their colleagues' stories and sources.

The report also revealed that the BND had been spying on journalists from 1990 until the autumn of 2005. According to the report, the BND was trying to identify the sources of leaks from within the intelligence agency.

While the leaked report says the complete list of journalists who were spied upon is not known, it reveals that one journalist working for the weekly "Focus", code-named "Dali" and "silent one," reportedly received 600,000 marks (US$395,000) for his services to the BND from 1982 to 1998.

Freelance journalist Erwin Decker, a former war correspondent in Iraq for the "Tagesspiegel", "Handelsblatt" and "Bild" newspapers, has admitted to giving BND information on his colleague Josef Hufelschulte, who worked for "Focus", notes RSF.

National Public Radio (NPR) reports that the BND has recently been under investigation by a parliamentary committee over the role of German agents in Baghdad who shared intelligence with American agents at the start of the 2003 Iraq war.

Deutsche Welle notes that on 27 May, the committee released a report saying the BND broke the law by spying on journalists. The German government has since announced that past and current BND employees would be investigated on the basis of the report's findings.

Visit these links:

- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=17719
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3917&Language=EN
- Text of the Leaked Report: http://www.bundestag.de/aktuell/pkg/index.html
- NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5409122
- Deutsche Welle: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2032833,00.html

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