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Austria shelves German spy probe after running out of leads

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Austria shelves German spy probe after running out of leads
Peter Gridling, head of the BVT domestic intelligence agency, told the Standard newspaper it would be hard to push ahead without German cooperation. Photo: OSCE/Micky Kroell
08:47 CEST+02:00
Austrian prosecutors confirmed Friday that they had shelved an investigation into allegations that Germany's BND secret service had systematically spied on politicians, international organisations and companies on Austrian territory.
The probe "has been broken off as currently there are no approaches available for the investigation," Nina Bussek, spokeswoman for the Vienna prosecutor's office, told AFP.
   
According to reports in two Austrian newspapers in June 2018, a long list of targets had been allegedly spied upon by the BND between 1999 and 2006, including 2,000 landline and mobile telephone numbers, faxes and email 
addresses of ministries, international organisations, embassies and companies operating in Austria. 
   
Among the organisations reportedly targeted were the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), all based in Vienna.  
 
 
At the time the reports came to light Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen urged the German authorities to provide "full clarification", a call echoed by then Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
   
"Spying between countries that are friends is not only undesirable, but also unacceptable," Van der Bellen told a specially convened news conference with Kurz at the time.
   
However, the Austrian investigation into the allegations "has little prospect of success" because of the difficulty Germany would have in cooperating with it, Peter Gridling, head of the BVT domestic intelligence agency, told the Standard newspaper. 
   
Bussek added that the probe had not been officially dropped.   "If there were to be new approaches for the investigation, it could be continued, but there aren't any at the moment," she said.
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