June 29, 2011 / 7:46 PM / 8 years ago

Germany extends anti-terror laws, ending long debate

* Coalition ends months-long row over where to set limits

* No access to safety deposit boxes for security services

BERLIN, June 29 (Reuters) - Germany extended its anti-terror laws for four years on Wednesday, ending a months-long row within the coalition government over what limits the state should set on tapping citizens’ personal information.

Germany introduced the legislation after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and has since renewed it once, for five years.

Under the new extension, announced by the interior and justice ministries, security services will no longer be empowered to monitor paper mail or post-office boxes.

That was a change the Free Democrats (FDP), the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, had lobbied for. But the party’s bid to extend search rights to terror suspects’ bank safety deposit boxes was rejected.

Other measures will be extended, including accessing flight and account details through a centralised system in addition to individual banks and airlines, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said.

Last week, Friedrich urged representatives of Germany’s large Muslim community to join government efforts to combat “radicalism and terror” among young Muslims, putting a special focus on the influence of militant websites.

“We want to stand up to the radicalisation and misuse of religion together,” he said after talks with leaders of the Muslim community and security experts.

Opposition parties said the centre-right government risked casting suspicion on all Muslims.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; writing by John Stonestreet)

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