October 31, 2011 / 5:48 AM / 8 years ago

Pakistan denies spying on German forces in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani officials on Monday rejected a German newspaper report that the country’s secret service spied on German security forces in Afghanistan.

Without citing its sources, mass-selling weekly Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday that Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency warned its interior ministry that Pakistan had spied on 180 German police officers deployed in Afghanistan to train locals.

A Pakistani foreign ministry official, who asked not to be identified, described the report as “ridiculous” and “useless”. Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said the report was not worth commenting on.

Bild am Sonntag said private telephone calls, messages to the German interior ministry, military mission orders and lists of police officer names had been intercepted, raising fears sensitive information could end up in the hands of the Taliban.

The United States has long suspected Pakistan, or elements within the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of supporting militant groups in order to increase its influence in Afghanistan, particularly after NATO troops leave in 2014.

Islamabad has come under particularly intense pressure to fight militancy since U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden in May in a Pakistani town, where he had apparently been living for years.

Admiral Mike Mullen said before retiring as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last month that a militant group that had attacked U.S. targets in Afghanistan was a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence.

The German interior ministry told Reuters the BND suspected a German email had been intercepted but could not give confirmation. The ministry added it was not aware of any comprehensive interception of German police data.

The BND declined to comment on the report.

Pakistan says it has sacrificed more than any other country that joined the U.S. war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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