Revelations made by Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency, have strained diplomatic relations, prompted congressional hearings, and shed light on some aspects of global intelligence gathering. Now, they've resulted in the German government being sued for allegedly abetting in the NSA's activities within the country.
Two German groups, the Chaos Computer Club and the International League for Human Rights, said Monday they were suing Chancellor Angela Merkel and other government officials for "illegal and prohibited covert intelligence activities."
Here's more from the statement:
"After months of press releases about mass surveillance by secret services and offensive attacks on information technology systems, we now have certainty that German and other countries' secret services have violated the German criminal law. With this criminal complaint, we hope to finally initiate investigations by the Federal Prosecutor General against the German government. The CCC has learned with certainty that the leaders of the secret services and the federal government have aided and abetted the commission of these crimes."
The groups called for an investigation of the activities by Germany's Federal Prosecutor General, adding "we want to bring to light more information about the illegal activities of German and foreign secret services and intend to bring the offenders of those crimes to accord."
As we've said before, Snowden's revelations that the NSA spied on foreign leaders, including Merkel, strained relations with Germany and other countries. In fact, when President Obama called last month for limits on the agency's collection of phone data, he said:
"Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, I've made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies."
Germany announced last month that Merkel would visit Washington at Obama's behest, marking a thaw in relations between the two allies.
Speaking in Berlin last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said relations with Germany had gone through a "rough period," but were now directed to the future.