July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Germany said it’s investigating the possible disappearance of design plans for the new headquarters of the country’s top spy agency in central Berlin.
The classified blueprints for Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, were taken from the headquarters’ secure construction site in the German capital’s Mitte district, Focus magazine reported on July 10. Officials are under “great pressure” to find out the extent of any security breach.
“This is a serious situation,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters today in Berlin. “The government has keen interest in clarifying this situation quickly.”
A disappearance could be a blow for the spy agency, possibly preventing foreign counterparts from sharing intelligence. The designs contain sensitive data on the building’s technology and logistics facilities as well as the position of emergency exits, security and cable layouts, Focus said. The magazine didn’t say how it obtained the information.
The data, likely stored on a USB stick, was stolen a year ago, forcing building planners to redesign the interior of the building, ARD television reported today, citing an unnamed government official. The incident will likely add to the cost of 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion), the broadcaster said.
Thomas Oppermann, a floor leader for the opposition Social Democrats in parliament, called for swift action by the Transport Ministry, which is in charge of construction projects, and criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The chancellery has to ask itself why it either knew nothing about this case or why it didn’t inform the Bundestag,” Oppermann said, referring to the lower house of parliament.
A lawmaker in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, Wolfgang Bosbach, told the Tagesspiegel the incident is a “bitter setback” for an institution working to improve its image.
The government decided in 2003 to move the BND to Berlin from the town of Pullach outside of Munich, where it’s been located since after World War II. The complex, which will have 4,000 employees, covers 260,000 square meters (2.8 million square feet) and stands on a site once occupied by East Germany’s Stadium of World Youth.
The BND was formed in 1956 as the successor to “Organization Gehlen,” a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency-backed spy network created under Reinhard Gehlen, a former Nazi general. Gehlen’s intelligence activities on Germany’s eastern front during the war were exploited by the American government against the Soviet Union.
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