Germany Acknowledges Spying on Journalists

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The German government has admitted that its foreign intelligence agency, the BND, has spied on German journalists. Media reports say some of the country's best-known investigative journalists were targeted as the BND tried to find out what they were working on and who their sources were. The reports said the spying had continued until a few months ago. German officials say the agency has been ordered to stop the surveillance.

The security service says it was watching the reporters in an attempt to root out government sources leaking information to the press.

The scandal erupted when the German daily Sudeutsche Zeitung published an article citing leaked material from a new parliamentary report. The report allegedly says the German Intelligence Service, the BND, has been spying on journalists by bugging their phones, reading their emails and digging into their personal lives.

They are also accused of hiring journalists to spy on each other, collecting information about stories they were working on and the identities of their sources. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the government regretted the BND's actions.

Reports have said some of the country's best-known investigative journalists were targeted as the BND tried to find out what they were working on and who their sources were. The reports said the spying had continued until a few months ago.

Ministers acted in advance of a parliamentary report due out next week, which is expected to accuse the agency of keeping German journalists under surveillance.

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. The latest revelation has dealt a new and damaging blow to the organization.

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