Strike one in the victory column for the conspiracy theorists.
After many years of denying it had any connection with organizations such as the Ionosphere Institute, and snubbing website “conspiracy” claims to the contrary, the BND admitted the mysterious complexes were in fact poorly concealed surveillance stations.
One of the facilities, previously known as the Telecommunications Traffic Office of the German Armed Forces, in Bad Aibling, near Munich, had its hitherto secret identity betrayed by massive golf ball-shaped radomes on its lawn.
The German intelligence-gathering agency held a ceremony at the complex on Friday to unveil a brass nameplate declaring its real purpose.
BND chief Gerhard Schindler admitted it was time to give up the ruse.
“It makes no sense, to give a simple example, that external sites of the BND are run with covert names if the fact that they belong to the BND can be read on the internet,” Schindler acknowledged recently.
“If there’s one thing that the man on the street will remember from the whole NSA debate in Germany, it’s that the satellite ground stations in Bad Aibling belong to the BND,” he added.
The six spy facilities are officially linked to the agency’s signals intelligence work —which eavesdrops on radio, data and phone traffic.
Friday was a busy day for the spy agencies, as Vodaphone, the world’s second largest mobile phone company, admitted it had allowed the intelligence agencies from almost 30 countries the power to listen in on customer conversations.
The UK-based company released on the same day a 40,000-word Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, which has been labeled “the most comprehensive survey yet of how governments monitor the conversations and whereabouts of their people,” the Guardian reported.