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Germany: Intelligence May Not Be Kept from Parliament

(Aug. 5, 2009) On July 30, 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that the government intelligence service (BND) may not withhold information from the legislature, unless there is a good cause presented in a detailed explanation. (Federal Constitutional Court website [in English], (last visited Aug. 3, 2009; text of ruling not yet available as of this date).) Merely refusing to provide information claiming a need to maintain secrecy is insufficient, the judges said, calling such claims “not plausible.” (Legal Setback for German Government and Its Intelligence Agencies, DEUTSCHE WELLE, July 30, 2009, available at,,4529937,00.html.)

The decision came in a case that began when the BND declined in 2006 to report to the German Green Party as to whether the Party was the subject of surveillance. The BND had argued that release of the information would have compromised their intelligence-gathering methods. (Id.) According to some parliamentarians, the recent Constitutional Court decision could lead to some information that is currently classified becoming public. (Matt Glenn, Germany High Court Rules Intelligence May Not Be Withheld from Parliament, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, July 31, 2009, available at
intelligence.php? 07 2009 paperchase

Intelligence services in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all come under government review in recent months. (Id.)