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Germany admits shadowy facilities were spy stations

GERMANY’S foreign intelligence agency officially lifted the lid on some of its worst-kept secrets today and admitted that several shadowy facilities around the country were spy stations.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) maintained for decades that it had nothing to do with sites such as the Ionosphere Institute. 

But internet enthusiasts long suspected their true identities and have been outing them on websites.

The subterfuge wasn’t helped by the fact that some sites sport unmistakable signs of spy activity, like the giant golf ball-shaped radomes in Bad Aibling, near Munich, which has hitherto been known as the Telecommunications Traffic Office of the German Armed Forces.

The agency held a ceremony at the site yesterday to attach its logo to the entrance.

BND chief Gerhard Schindler has sought to distance his agency from the disreputable work of some of its international counterparts following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US National Security Agency.

“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,” Mr 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 sites are officially linked to the agency’s signals intelligence work — spook jargon for eavesdropping on radio, data and phone traffic.

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