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Leaked Documents Reveal German Intelligence Spied on Airbus for U.S., Manufacturer Vows Legal Action

Leaked documents indicating that German intelligence spied on Airbus at the behest of U.S. officials have the European aircraft manufacturer vowing to seek legal redress.

A fresh scandal is shaking up the aviation industry this week, as leaked documents suggest the German intelligence agency BND spied on European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). BBC News reports that the documents have incensed Airbus executives, who say they will take legal action and file a criminal complaint as a result.

“We are aware that large companies in the sector, like ours, are targets of espionage,” read a portion of an official Airbus statement quoted by AFP. “However, in this case we are alarmed because there is concrete suspicion.”

The leaked BND documents suggest that the agency began monitoring Airbus at the request of U.S. officials as part of an effort to discern whether large European companies were violating terms of agreed-upon trade embargoes. The NSA and the BND  have a long history of working together to monitor the communications of groups and individuals with possible ties to terrorism. In this case, however, the alleged partnership between the two agency seems to have focused on industrial espionage rather than global security concerns.

Revelations that the German government may have known about the corporate spying efforts of the NSA and BND since early 2008 have politicians calling for public hearings on the matter, with some suggesting that the allegations be referred to the same special parliamentary committee that was originally impaneled to investigate revelations that the NSA spied on the German government.

[Photo: Airbus]

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alphaod May 6, 2015

So they're complaining that the US spied on Airbus, not that Boeing spied on Airbus...

relangford May 5, 2015

Pot, meet kettle. Commercial and industrial espionage go both ways, although use of a national intelligence service may be a little unusual (note: not altogether unexpected). I would be shocked if Airbus doesn't have spies in Boeing (Airbus could learn more from Boeing engineering than vice versa), or even if the BND didn't do a little counterspying on Boeing for Airbus.