German spy agency embarrassed by document theft

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 11, 2011 8:43 AM
German spy agency embarrassed by document theft

By Eric Kelsey

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is worried the security of its new 1.6-billion euro intelligence agency headquarters has been compromised, after blueprints of the high-tech building mysteriously disappeared.

"It's a serious issue and the government is interested in clearing up this case as quickly as possible," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday after Focus magazine reported the blueprints had been stolen.

The government has set up a committee to investigate the incident and how the blueprints to the nearly finished building in the government quarter, near where the Berlin Wall once stood, may have gone missing despite tight security, he said.

Seibert would not say whether the complex would have to be redesigned or rebuilt but added there would be "ramifications" if security had been compromised.

The BND would not comment on the report.

The disappearance of the sensitive blueprints is a huge embarrassment for the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency.

During the Cold War, West Germany's domestic and foreign intelligence services were penetrated by it's East German rival, the Stasi.

In the most high profile case, a Stasi agent worked as a personal aide to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, forcing him to resign in 1974.

The missing plans show highly sensitive areas of the BND's headquarters, including its logistical nerve center as well as anti-terror installations, sewers, cables and emergency exits.

The building, the most expensive and most high-tech government structure in Germany, is scheduled to be completed by 2014 and house about 4,000 workers. It has been built on a lot in a trendy area known for modern art galleries.

Moreover, a leader of a department within the agency had downloaded pornographic material to the hard drive of his work computer, possibly exposing the BND's computer network to a cyber attack, the magazine said.

The BND's headquarters has for decades been in the Bavarian village of Pullach near Munich. The government decided to move the BND from Bavaria to Berlin in the wake of the September 11, 2011 terror attacks on the United States.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)