U.S., UK had access to Germans’ Internet

BERLIN — The U.S. National Security Agency and its U.K. counterpart GCHQ gained secret access to the networks of German Web providers including Deutsche Telekom as it sought to peer into computers all over the world, Der Spiegel reported, citing documents provided by Edward Snowden.

The agencies conducted an operation called Treasure Map, which sought close to real-time access to individual routers as well as computers, smartphones and tablets connected to the Internet, Spiegel reported Saturday in an emailed preview of an article to be published on Monday. The New York Times reported the existence of Treasure Map last year.

Deutsche Telekom said it’s investigating the allegations and hasn’t found evidence of manipulation or external access to its networks. The company, in an emailed statement, said it has informed German authorities and is reviewing its networks with external information-technology experts.

Access by foreign security agencies would be “completely unacceptable,” the Bonn-based company said in its statement.

Deutsche Telekom and Cologne, Germany-based Netcologne were marked on a leaked graphic with red dots, indicating surveillance access points, Spiegel reported. Netcologne didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment on Saturday.

GCHQ, in Cheltenham, England, said in an email that the agency’s work “is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight” by other government officials.

The NSA didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Tensions over U.S. spying in Germany escalated this year amid disclosures including the alleged hacking of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone. Germany asked the top American intelligence officer in Berlin to leave in July as a result of two spying cases.

Snowden, as an employee with U.S. government-security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, gained access to thousands of classified documents and last year began leaking them to journalists. The revelations about U.S. spying spurred global debate about the trade-offs between privacy and security and strained America’s ties with European allies, particularly Germany.

Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the U.S., fled the country and resides in Russia, which granted him a permit to live there.

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