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Germany ends information-sharing with U.S., Britain: media

Germany has cancelled a Cold War-era agreement on information-sharing with the United States and Britain as recent revelations about U.S. online spying put the government under increasing pressure and criticism, media reports said Saturday.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement Friday that the cancellation of the information-sharing agreements is a "necessary and proper consequence of the recent debate about protecting personal privacy".

The British Foreign Office confirmed in a statement that the 1968 agreement had been stopped after a request from German government, adding that the pact "hasn't been used since at least 1990."

Recent reports of widespread U.S. spying have sparked outcry in privacy-sensitive Germany. Thousands of protesters braved the heat wave in late July and took to the streets across Germany against the U.S. internet surveillance in the country.

The protestors also voiced support for fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden who revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring phone calls and Internet data connections in Germany as well as spying on the headquarters of the European Union.

As a result, less than half of the German people see the United States as a trustworthy partner in the aftermath of the reports, a recent poll has showed.

Facing increasing political pressure, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated that "German laws must be abided by on German territory." She also said Germany is not a surveillance state.

The German opposition parties have been criticizing Chancellor Merkel's coalition government over its handling of the United States' massive surveillance program in Germany, as the public outrage shows no signs of abating with the looming general elections in September.

However, the spying scandal has not seemed to affect Merkel's popular status in Germany on the eve of general elections. A recent opinion poll by public broadcaster ZDF showed that 62 percent of respondents still support Merkel as the preferred chancellor.

An opinion poll published on Thursday also indicated that Merkel's ruling coalition has scored 47 percent support, which is enough to win a parliamentary majority in the Sept. 22 election.

[Source: Xinhua, Berlin, 03Aug13]

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Privacy and counterintelligence
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