May 5, 2015 / 4:52 PM / 4 years ago

Austria files legal complaint over German-U.S. spying suspicions

VIENNA, May 5 (Reuters) - Austria has filed a legal complaint over suspicions that Germany’s BND intelligence agency and the U.S. National Security Agency might have spied on its authorities and firms, the interior minister said on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the BND on Monday against accusations it illegally helped the United States spy on officials and companies in Europe.

“Austria demands clarification,” Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told Reuters, following German media reports about such activities. He added that Austria’s security authorities were in contact with their German counterparts.

“Today we have filed a legal complaint with the prosecutor’s office,” she said, “against an unknown entity due to secret intelligence services to Austria’s disadvantage.”

Revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that Washington carried out large-scale electronic espionage in Europe have provoked outrage.

The German chancellery has said it had known of the NSA interest in spying on European defence firms since 2008, even though parliament was told in 2014 it had no information about that.

Mikl-Leitner said Austria will try to resolve the situation through its security, diplomatic and judicial bodies.

“There is no concrete evidence yet,” she said. “It’s not far-fetched to suspect that Austria was also spied on.” (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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