Jimmy Mubenga’s unlawful killing was a death waiting to happen

Jimmy Mubenga’s inquest has shed light on the murky world of the privatised deportation business

A protest against the treatment of Jimmy Mubenga outside the Home Office in London. Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

The inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga uncovered a shocking story of a cruel deportation system, of racism and inhumanity, and of a state seemingly unwilling to prosecute those who abuse and misuse their powers. The verdict of unlawful killing is an honest reflection of the evidence heard.

Mubenga died on 12 October 2010 on a British Airways flight bound for Angola, the country of his birth. He was being deported after being convicted of involvement in a pub fight, his first and only offence. He had been in the UK since 1994, and left behind a wife and five children, all of whom were born in the UK and are now British citizens. A committed family man, he was a regular at the school gates for the children.

Mubenga died a terrifying death while being restrained by three G4S guards in his aeroplane seat, belted and handcuffed behind his back. The restraint up to 40 minutes; this took place in front of passengers and BA crew, but no one intervened or gave first aid. That was left to the London Ambulance Service, who valiantly tried to save his life but by the time they arrived it was too late.

The investigation into his death was bungled from the outset. The guards were taken to Heathrow police station where senior G4S management, including a former Metropolitan chief superintendent, attended. The guards were not questioned but released and taken to a hotel where in the same room, and with senior management present, they wrote up their accounts. These claimed Mubenga had forced himself forward in his seat, causing his own death.

A different story came to light in the Guardian days later. Passengers described Mubenga being forced face forward in his seat by the guards, shouting that he couldn’t breathe, that he was being killed and pleading for help. Pathologists gave evidence that his death was caused by restraint and that you couldn’t “restrain yourself to death”. The matter was passed to the homicide squad. The guards were arrested and on two of their phones extreme racist texts were found. After almost two years the Crown Prosecution Service decided, inexplicably to the family, not to bring charges – the latest in a series of failures to prosecute over deaths in state custody.

At the inquest the reality of the murky private removals industry emerged, where deportations are a business for profit with multimillion-pound contracts. G4S was paid by the hour, and if a deportation failed profits were hit. The guards’ wages were dependent on the hours worked. It was important to “get the job away” and they were given incentives for successful removals.

Deportations could fail if the deportee made too much of a commotion and the pilot asked the guards to get off the plane. So a technique called “carpet karaoke” was developed by guards to silence deportees. They would push a seated and belted deportee forward so that would “sing to the carpet” and their shouts, screams and cries would be muffled. It is a potentially lethal, and illegal, technique as it affects the ability to breathe and was explicitly banned by G4S. The restraint described by passengers pointed to this banned technique, with Mubenga forced forward by guards while in his seat, his voice appearing to be projected downwards and gradually becoming quieter.

G4S no longer has the contract for overseas escorting – though escorts and senior managers remain the same. Before Mubenga’s death, there had already been allegations of ill-treatment, racism, and excessive and dangerous use of force by private security contractors during forced removals. The Home Office is responsible for supervision and oversight of the contracts, so it has questions to answer. There are also concerns arising from the relationship between the state and private companies, with senior employees retiring from one to reappear in the other.

A death such as Jimmy Mubenga’s was waiting to happen. A man died in a public space while all around him people did nothing. Will the response to this inquest bring any change?

Deborah Coles and Mark Scott
The Guardian, Tuesday 9 July 2013 16.05 BST

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Deported Angolan Jimmy Mubenga ‘unlawfully killed’ on flight, jury rules as CPS reconsiders charges for G4S guards

An Angolan man who died after being restrained by three guards from the security firm G4S as he was being deported from Britain was unlawfully killed, a jury ruled, prompting the Crown Prosecution Service to reconsider its decision not to bring criminal charges.
Ads by Google

Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died on board a British Airways flight bound for Angola in October 2010. At the end of an eight-week inquest, the jury recorded a majority verdict of nine to one of unlawful killing after four days of deliberations.

The decision prompted an emotional response from Mr Mubenga’s wife, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, who had been living with her late husband in Ilford, east London, after arriving in the UK from Angola in 1994. Outside the court she said that Mr Mubenga had been treated “worse than an animal” on the flight. She called for deportations to be better monitored.

She added: “Someone walked onto a plane feeling fine and came out of the plane dead. How can my family live with this pain?”

During the inquest, the jury heard that Mr Mubenga had been calling out for help as the three guards – Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler – restrained him for nearly half an hour. Several passengers said they heard him shouting that he could not breathe and that he was crying out: “They’re going to kill me.”

In evidence, the guards claimed they had not heard Mr Mubenga remarking he was unable to breathe and insisted he had been resting his head on the seat in front and intermittently forcing it down towards his knees as he was being restrained.

But counsel for Mr Mubenga’s family, Henry Blaxland QC, suggested that the guards had been trying to “teach Mubenga a lesson”. He said the trio had been pushing his head down in an attempt to keep him quiet and fabricated the story that he was doing it himself.

The inquest heard the three guards were subsequently arrested “on suspicion of criminal offences” relating to Mr Mubenga’s death, but last year – 21 months after his death – the CPS decided not to press charges and no further action was taken.

G4S maintained that its staff were “trained… and vetted to the standards defined by strict Home Office guidelines”. A spokeswoman added: “The death of anyone in our care is deeply felt by all of us and the death of Mr Mubenga was a very tragic event.

“The welfare of those in our care is always our top priority and we take great care to ensure that our employees on this contract, which has been carried out by another provider since November 2011, were made aware of their responsibilities in this respect.”

Scotland Yard said a thorough and complex 21-month investigation was carried out by its Homicide and Serious Crime Command into Mr Mubenga’s death. During the inquiry, more than 300 witness statements were taken from passengers, cabin crew, ground staff and first responders from the emergency services.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Mubenga’s family. We are very clear that we expect the highest standards of integrity and behaviour from all of our contractors.”

Kunal Dutta
Tuesday 09 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© independent.co.uk

Jimmy Mubenga was unlawfully killed, inquest jury finds

Angolan man died after being restrained by G4S guards on deportation flight from UK

Jimmy Mubenga was heard shouting that he could not breathe before he died, according to passengers on the flight. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

An Angolan man who died after being restrained by three G4S guards as he was being deported from the UK was unlawfully killed, a jury has found.

Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died on board a plane at Heathrow airport that was bound for Angola in October 2010. At the end of an eight-week inquest, a jury of seven men and three women recorded a majority verdict of nine to one of unlawful killing after four days of deliberations.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it would reconsider its original decision not to bring criminal charges in the wake of the verdict.

The inquest heard that Mubenga had been calling out for help as the three guards – Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler – heavily restrained him for more than half an hour. Several passengers said they heard him shouting that he could not breathe and that he was crying out: “They’re going to kill me.”

Returning the verdict of unlawful killing, the jury foreman said: “Based on the evidence we have heard, we find that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down by one or more of the guards, causing his breathing to be impeded. We find that they were using unreasonable force and acting in an unlawful manner. The fact that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down, or a combination of the two, was a significant, that is more than minimal, cause of death.

“The guards, we believe, would have known that they would have caused Mr Mubenga harm in their actions, if not serious harm. We believe that Mr Mubenga died in his seat … before the paramedics boarded the plane.”

The inquest heard that as the plane began to taxi on to the runway the guards said Mubenga became tired and stopped shouting. The guards said they realised something was wrong and the plane returned to the stand and paramedics were called. Mubenga was pronounced dead a short time later.

Outside the court Mubenga’s widow, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, said her late husband had been treated “worse than an animal” on the flight. Calling him a good man and a loving husband, she called for deportations to be better monitored. “He is a big gap in the family. We are going to miss him. We are not going to forget him.”

In evidence, the guards claimed they had not heard Mubenga saying he could not breathe and insisted he had been resting his head on the seat in front and intermittently forcing it down towards his knees as he was being restrained – a position known to carry a risk of death by asphyxia.

But counsel for Mubenga’s family, Henry Blaxland QC, suggested to Hughes that the guards had been trying to “teach Mubenga a lesson”. He said the three guards had been pushing Mubenga’s head down in an attempt to keep him quiet and had only “come up with” the story that Mubenga was forcing his own head down to explain what passengers on the plane would have seen.

The inquest heard the three guards were subsequently arrested “on suspicion of criminal offences” relating to Mubenga’s death, but last year – 21 months after his death – the CPS decided not to press charges and no further action was taken.

During the hearing it emerged that two of the guards – Hughes and Tribelnig – had a string of racist “jokes” on their phone. Hughes’s phone had 65 texts containing what the coroner Karon Monaghan QC said contained “very racially offensive material”.

A G4S spokesman said: “The death of anyone in our care is deeply felt by all of us and the death of Mr Mubenga was a very tragic event.

“The welfare of those in our care is always our top priority and we take great care to ensure that our employees on this contract, which has been carried out by another provider since November 2011, were made aware of their responsibilities in this respect. Our employees were also trained, screened and vetted to the standards defined by strict Home Office guidelines.

“We believe that at all times we acted appropriately and in full compliance with the terms of our contract with UKBA and it should be noted that the Crown Prosecution Service found no basis on which to bring criminal charges against G4S in this case.

“It would not be appropriate for us to comment on behalf of our former employees, who were separately represented throughout these proceedings.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Mubenga’s family. We are very clear that we expect the highest standards of integrity and behaviour from all of our contractors.”

There has been widespread concern about the way people are removed from the UK, with repeated allegations of mistreatment and assaults of detainees. The contract is now run by Tascor, and current guards who have spoken to the Guardian say there is still inadequate training for new recruits. One who did not want to be named said a number of detainees had been punched and assaulted by guards on a recent charter flight to Lagos.

A spokesman for Tascor said it could not comment on anonymous claims, but added that it focused on “delivering a professional service to its clients while ensuring its methods of operations are compliant with the relevant statutory regulations”.

Matthew Taylor, Paul Lewis and Guy Grandjean
theguardian.com, Tuesday 9 July 2013 14.58 BST

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Jimmy Mubenga security guards had racist jokes on their mobile phones

Inquest hears jokes deriding blacks, Asians and Muslims when G4S officers are asked to read from their mobile phones

Jimmy Mubenga with his wife Adrienne. He died while being restrained on an aircraft as G4S officers were trying to deport him. Photograph: PA

A G4S security guard who was restraining an Angolan man who died as he was being deported from the UK had 65 racist jokes on his mobile phone when it was seized by police.

Terry Hughes, one of three detention custody officers in charge of Jimmy Mubenga’s forced deportation in October 2010, was told at an inquest at Isleworth crown court on Friday to read out a selection of the texts, which included offensive language directed at black, Asian and Muslim people.

Karon Monaghan QC, the assistant deputy coroner for Hammersmith, west London, said the texts contained “very racially offensive material”. The court heard that some of the texts had been sent by other detention custody officers.

Hughes is the second G4S officer involved in Mubenga’s case to be found with racist jokes on his mobile phone. This week, Stuart Tribelnig was found to have a string of texts deriding black, Pakistani and Muslim men.

When questioned in court, Hughes and Tribelnig said they had not read all the texts, although both had forwarded some of the material. They also said they did not know how to or never bothered to delete texts from their phones. Hughes said that, although the texts suggested “a great deal of racial hostility”, he was not at all racially hostile.

Mubenga, 46, died on a plane at Heathrow as it waited on the runway. He had been restrained by three G4S officers – Hughes, Tribelnig and Colin Kaler – for about 35 minutes.

The Angolan had been in the UK since 1994 and lived in London with his family. He was convicted of actual bodily harm in 2006, and a decision was taken to deport him at the end of his sentence. By September 2010 the appeals process had expired. Two weeks later he boarded the plane at Heathrow, at about 7.30pm, accompanied by the three G4S guards.

Once on the plane he was allowed to go to the toilet and use a mobile phone. The guards said he had acted as a gentleman up to that point. However, the jury was told that shortly afterwards he began a struggle in an attempt to get the deportation cancelled.

Hughes described how the three guards had tried to restrain him by using handcuffs and forcing him to sit in his seat. He said Mubenga at some stages had his head below the level of the television screen on the back of the chair in front, but insisted it was Mubenga himself who had forced his body into that position, one that is known to carry the danger of asphyxiation.

Hughes told the court Mubenga was shouting thoughout the restraint although he could not remember what Mubenga was saying. But in an earlier police interview read out in court he had said: “All the time Jimmy is shouting and screaming, ‘They are killing me – I am going to my death’.” After hearing the statement, Hughes accepted that Mubenga “must have been shouting that”.

Henry Blaxland QC, representing Mubenga’s family, asked Hughes whether Mubenga had complained about being unable to breathe during the struggle and whether one of the guards had replied: “If you cannot breathe how can you talk?”

Hughes said he did not remember that exchange taking place.

Blaxland asked if Hughes and the other guards had been trying to “teach Mubenga a lesson” after he had betrayed their trust by starting the struggle on the aircraft.

Hughes denied the allegation and also denied that any of the guards had pushed Mubenga’s head down during the struggle, insisting that Mubenga forced his own head down.

But Blaxland asked Hughes if he and the other guards had “come up with this” to explain what passengers on the plane might have seen: “Were you trying to come up with an explanation for what you thought people would have seen – a man bent double in his seat?”

“No sir,” replied Hughes.

Blaxland said the truth was that the guards had been pushing Mubenga down. Hughes again replied: “No sir.”

The struggle between the guards and Mubenga continued for more than half an hour before Mubenga went quiet and Hughes thought he had become “resigned” to returning to Angola.

However, he said the guards realised something was wrong before the plane took off and raised the alarm. The plane taxied back to the terminal stand, where emergency teams were called.

Mubenga was pronounced dead some time later.

In court Hughes broke down as he recalled the moment, that evening, when police told him Mubenga had died, and the inquest had to be suspended.

He was asked by counsel for Mubenga’s family if he had been crying because he knew he had caused the death. He replied: “Not at all, sir, no.”

The three guards were subsequently arrested “on suspicion of criminal offences” relating to Mubenga’s death. However, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges and no further action was taken.

The inquest, which is due to last eight weeks, continues.

Matthew Taylor
The Guardian, Friday 17 May 2013 16.14 BST

Find this story at 17 May 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Jimmy Mubenga: Questions raised over flight guidelines for deportations

BA long-haul pilot tells Guardian it was a mistake to keep Mubenga on board once he began struggling with his escorts

Jimmy Mubenga died during deportation from the UK. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

The use of commercial aircraft to transport deportees has been called into question by a British Airways pilot following the death of Jimmy Mubenga.

A BA long-haul pilot told the Guardian that it was a mistake to keep Mubenga on board a passenger service once he began struggling with his escorts. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the pilot said that the prospect of restraining a passenger for the duration of a nine-hour flight would have been unacceptable to senior crew.

“We are legally responsible for safety, security and good order on board our aircraft. We must act if any of those are at risk. If the passenger is not accepting the situation he has been placed in, then a scheduled passenger aircraft is clearly not an appropriate method of transport. Besides, you cannot hold someone in their seat for eight to nine hours down to Luanda, and you certainly cannot restrain them for eight to nine hours.”

A BA spokesperson said the airline was obliged to carry deportees under the 1971 Immigration Act if the Home Office requested it. “Like all airlines, we must comply with the UK deportation law under the 1971 Immigration Act.” Virgin Atlantic and BMI have also transported deportees this year, while in 2009 nearly 2,000 people were deported on charter flights to destinations including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

The government has spent more than £100m on flights deporting failed asylum seekers, foreign nationals and immigration offenders in the last five years. In 2008-9 alone, £8.2m was spent on chartered flights and £18.6m on scheduled flights – a total of £26.8m and up from £20.4m the previous year.

According to BA guidelines on carrying deportees, Mubenga should have been treated as a normal passenger unless he was under restraint. The guidelines state: “If the deportee is under restraint, then the rules relating to prisoners apply, otherwise, in most other respects, deportees should be treated as normal passengers.”

If Mubenga was not under restraint when he was escorted on to the aircraft on Tuesday night then he could have been classified as a passenger. However, according to one eyewitness handcuffs were used by G4S security guards to restrain him while the aircraft was still on the ground. BA guidelines state: “Physical restraint of a passenger can be applied only on the express instructions of the captain and only whilst airborne. The captain has the duty and the legal authority to order physical restraint when, in his judgment, it is essential to preserve the safety of the aircraft, the crew or other passengers.”

The guidelines for prisoners, or for deportees who are under restraint as they board, state that the prisoner should not be served alcohol and must be seated “off the aisle, near a toilet and, if handcuffed, away from emergency exits.”

Dan Milmo
The Guardian, Friday 15 October 2010 20.08 BST

Find this story at 15 October 2010
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

In the shadows of international law

German intelligence services collect data from asylum seekers that could have security relevance and turn it over to the US. In some instances this could be a breach of international law.

In its ongoing “war on terror,” the United States, for years, has been carrying out so-called targeted killings of suspected terrorists with the help of unmanned drone aircraft. Information about possible targets is also passed on to the US intelligence services by their German counterparts, who have gleaned that information from asylum seekers.

Germany’s Central Survey Office (HBW) regularly conducts background checks on asylum seekers. The agency, like the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), answers directly to the chancellor, and is particularly interested in information about suspected terrorists in the asylum seeker’s country of origin.

Theoretically, as German media have pointed out, the transfer of this information could lead to the targeted killing of a person by the United States, making Germany an indirect participant in that action – and that could be a violation of international law, according to Robert Frau, an expert on the subject at Viadrina University in Frankfurt/Oder.

“If Germany were to hand over data to the Americans, which were then used for illegal actions, then Germany would be abetting a breach of international law,” said Frau.

Interpretations of international law

There is no consensus among law experts, however, whether or not drone attacks and targeted killings are a violation of international law, and as such, whether Germany, in passing on information, would be abetting a breach of the law.

This MQ-9 Reaper is one of the main drones used by the US for clandestine air operations

In armed conflicts, persons participating directly in combat operations are legitimate targets. “In such cases, a drone attack is no different than using a missile, or having soldiers fire their weapons,” said Frau.

A targeted killing in that scenario would not be a violation of international law. Both the United States and Germany, for example, are involved in an armed conflict in Afghanistan. Therefore, if Germany passes information to the US on German citizens in Afghanistan and the US uses that information for a targeted killing, that is not a breach of international law, Frau explained.

The situation would be different in Somalia, however. “Germany is not involved in armed conflict there and outside of an armed conflict there are other rules. That means, as a matter of principle, such killings are not legal,” Frau stressed.

No German collusion is known

Hans-Christian Ströbele admits that no German participation is known

It is next to impossible to prove whether or not Germany in the past ever provided information that led to a targeted killing. When asked, the German government points to the necessity of keeping sensitive information secret.

Even the highly critical Green politician, Hans-Christian Ströbele, who is a member of the Parliamentary Control Committee that oversees the intelligence services and has access to secret government files, has said that he has no knowledge of any such cases.

Ströbele did say, however, that there was also no way to totally exclude it either. Germany, he said, had no way of knowing what the US did with the information it received from Berlin.

Once data is passed on, one can assume the US intelligence services will use it as they see fit, agrees law expert Frau. Germany “cannot pass on data with the explicit request that they not be used for illegal acts,” he said.

Date 26.11.2013
Author Sven Pöhle / gb
Editor John Blau

Find this story at 26 November 2013

© 2013 Deutsche Welle |

German spies keep tabs on asylum-seekers

German law promises refuge to those persecuted in their home countries. Now it has been revealed that German intelligence uses the asylum process to find out more about those coming here – and those who stay behind.

When refugees apply for asylum in Germany they have to go through a long process before their stay is approved. Employees of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ask them questions about the situation in their home country and whether they face political persecution.

They agency is also interested in finding out how refugees arrived in Germany, whether criminal smugglers helped them and whether applicants entered other European countries before arriving in Germany. If they did, international law says they must return to the country of entry.

Victor Pfaff says the HBW are not mysterious

But unknown to the public, there is another authority that can take charge of the process. The Berlin-based Office for Interrogation (HBW) is officially part of the chancellor’s office. Since 1958 if has gathered information to help Germany’s domestic Federal Intelligence Service (BND). Many observers believe it is in reality part of the BND.

Journalists from the daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and public broadcaster NDR reported that HBW employees ask whether asylum-seekers know specific people in their home countries who might belong to a terrorist organization or have information about weapons caches. In theory, this information could be used by intelligence services to find or kill terrorists.

A dangerous game?

Lawyers who advise asylum-seekers about their rights frequently encounter the HBW. Victor Pfaff has been working in Frankfurt as an asylum-rights lawyer for more than 40 years. He has met many HBW employees, finding them always to be very polite and happy to hand out their business cards. “We shouldn’t enshroud them in a fog of mystery,” he said.

Pfaff said the agency denies being part of the BND, even though both organizations report directly to the chancellor.

Asylum-seekers had never complained to him that this questioning caused them problems, Pfaff said. On the contrary, he sometimes approached the HBW for help in speeding up difficult asylum cases. He said if his clients are able to provide useful information, their residence permits can be issued in a matter of days.

But deals like this only happen rarely, Pfaff said, warning that information can also be gathered without consent. “It is problem if German intelligence is secretly present at a an asylum hearing and provides this information to foreign intelligence.” If this happened, asylum-seekers might feel they were being used. Pfaff said he had heard of such cases, and believed they posed a danger, because terrorists could take revenge and kill alleged traitors.

Refugees can spend years in camps such as this one in Friedland, Lower Saxony

Warnings for attempted spying

Claus-Ulrich Prössl heads the Cologne Refugee Council, an organization that assists asylum-seekers throughout the procedure. Prössl said he believes the BND and the HBW are closely connected, and had even heard of cases where people were questioned by BND employees. “A few refugees were hoping that their asylum process would go more quickly, while other refugees did not understand what was going on and were worried.”

Prössl warns asylum-seekers to be careful: “Unfortunately, after the NSA affair, we have to assume that all information will be passed on.” He said he did not see any data protection or confidentiality and worried that the information thus gathered would not stay within the borders of Germany. There must be a reason, he said, why the state of North Rhine-Westphalia had given up on its own security questioning.

Cologne-based lawyer Zaza Koschuaschwili also warns applicants about questions that have nothing to do with the actual asylum process. Sometimes the quality of the available simultaneous translators is poor:”It often happens that interpreters is add their own interpretations or opinions to a statement.” His clients would often complain that they had been musunderstood, he added.

As a lawyer and a native of Georgia, Koschuaschwili can speak both languages and knows his clients’ rights. But whenever the HBW gets involved, attorneys are frequently excluded from interviews.

Refugees give information to the HBW in the hope of gaining residency

Participation is not meant to have drawbacks

DW asked the HBW for an interview to shed light on the relationship between itself and the BND. Its director promised to provide the desired information once a series of questions had been discussed with the chancellor’s office. That process is still ongoing.

Six months ago, Sharmila H. came to Germany from Afganistan. Although she is still waiting for her interview, she says one thing is already clear to her: “I will not answer just any questions,” if intelligence agencies speak to her – just who she is and why she came here.

Pfaff and Koschuaschwili wish to reassure those who are unwilling to cooperate with German intelligence that they should have no fear about the regular procedure for granting asylum.

Sharmila H. hopes they are right.

Date 22.11.2013
Author Wolfgang Dick / ns
Editor Simon Bone

Find this story at 22 November 2013

© 2013 Deutsche Welle

Asylum Seekers in Germany Unwittingly Used As Intelligence Sources

In Somalia, Yusuf A. owned two houses and several cars. He had money and power as a politician with a seat in parliament and occasionally even in the cabinet. Now he lives in a shabby apartment in a small industrial park in Munich. Yusuf hasn’t yet found work and frequently falls ill. He’s lost his wealth, but at least he’s safe. In Somalia, he was under threat from al-Shabaab Islamists. Then it went beyond threats. One day a grenade landed in his house, killing a colleague of his. Yusuf fled to Germany.

He was granted permanent residency with amazing swiftness and was allowed to send for his wife and seven children to join him. The German authorities—and they probably weren’t alone—showed great interest in Yusuf. In the span on seven weeks authorities called him in for questioning five times. The meetings lasted hours. Hearings conducted by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees usually aren’t that involved. But in the case of Yusuf A., another authority came into play: the Main Office for Questioning (the Hauptstelle für Befragungswesen, HBW for short), which was established in during Cold War times to interview refugees and immigrants.

The mysterious agency specializes in drawing on information it teases out of refugees. Just like the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, the BND, the counterpart to the U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency), it falls under the purview of the Chancellor’s office. Even the federal government is tight-lipped about the intelligence operations conducted within the HBW. This is about secret intelligence, after all.

Old records at Berlin’s administrative court show, however, that the HBW (first created by Germany’s Western allies) has been under the control of the BND since the 1950s. One BND report from 1983 calls witnesses in the HBW asylum process an “opening in the shadows.” That would make the HBW an institution built on a shadow world.

The refugees are expected to give extensive testimony. Testimony about conditions back home, preferably about politicians, terrorists and their networks.

Yusuf won’t say exactly what he told the officers at the HBW. But he will give us one detail; during a meeting he gave up the telephone number of an al-Shabaab leader. He knew a woman who came from the same town and, at the urging of the German officers, coaxed the al-Shabaab leader’s number out of her. He also found out that the Islamist leader seldom used his cellphone and even then used it only briefly. He mostly let his associates speak for him, switching their phones often.

Yusuf now wonders if it was right to pass on the number to the Germans. Cellphone numbers help to locate people, and if the German authorities get a hold of important numbers, the BND can hand them over to the U.S.

The United States is leading a drone war in Somalia that is legally questionable and continually claims the lives of people who have nothing to do with terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab or Al-Qaida. Yusuf knows that.

He says, “You have to attack al-Shabaab. They are evil people.” But he doesn’t want innocent civilians to die in the name of shutting down al-Shabaab.

Refugees like Yusuf who are interviewed by the HBW aren’t told later what was done with the information they provided.

Immigrant as informant

Asylum seekers in Germany are unwittingly being used as intelligence sources. Not every immigrant is called for questioning, but some receive letters from the HBW. They read; “the security situation worldwide” makes it necessary that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany gain information “about the political and social issues in your home country.” The HBW is charged with “collecting reliable information.”

An HBW questionnaire for Afghanis reads: “The people in my hometown openly support the Taliban”—”yes” and “no”. The HBW wants to know how the supply of doctors and drinking water is, how foreign soldiers are perceived, and whether people believe that Afghanistan’s government can stabilize the situation. The questions are written in Afghanistan’s official language, Dari.

Once you’ve filled out the questionnaire, it’s not over. Sometimes two women from the HBW, accompanied by a translator, arrive for a more personal chat. One lawyer from northern Germany says her client was allowed to stay in Germany because of his work helping the U.S. Army in his home country of Afghanistan. Later she learned her client had been questioned by the HBW in a refugee camp. She calls the cooperation between refugees and the HBW a “balancing act”. It’s not yet clear, lawyers say, what’s done with the information from these surveys and interviews or what effect participation—or nonparticipation—has on the refugees’ fate.

The Germany government says participation in the surveys is voluntary and has no influence on the duration or success of the asylum process. But it’s striking how quickly refugees are taken in when they pique the interest of the HBW. Attorneys argue that their clients are especially vulnerable after such an HBW interview session if they are subsequently sent back to their home countries. In many of these refugees’ homelands, it’s not exactly seen as a good thing to be talking to a western intelligence agency.

The German government talks about “post-refuge rationale” that occurs after leaving one’s homeland. If such a “post-refuge rationale” is apparent during the HBW questioning, it will be considered as part of the asylum application. That sounds complicated, especially since the government says there’s no reward system at play.

In off-the-record interviews, several attorneys said clearly: refugees who cooperate with the HBW can expect a speedy process and permanent residency in Germany. Lawyers are mostly shut out of these interview sessions. The authorities explicitly advise the asylum seekers to come without legal representation.

One Somali interpreter who has translated for asylum seekers for many years is convinced that there’s a rewards system at play: “It’s made clear to these people that if they cooperate they will be accepted quicker.” The interpreter came to Germany more than 20 years ago and has assisted many asylum seekers over the years. He fears giving his name would put his work and himself at risk. He says sometimes strange people come to hearings at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees calling themselves interns. “The intern doesn’t come to simply any hearing, but rather just when he thinks someone knows something.” Then the refugee is asked about Islamist groups in great detail. Many refugees come from regions where the U.S. has dropped bombs using unmanned predator drones. Drones are a weapon against which you can’t protect yourself, says the interpreter. “People live in fear.”

Victor Pfaff, a lawyer from Frankfurt, witnessed in the 1970s how asylum seekers had to move through three rooms during an application procedure. One room where the German officials sat, one where representatives from the U.S. intelligence agencies awaited them. The sign read “Liaison Officer “. It was only later that Pfaff learned of the HBW. He considers the agency to be legitimate and thinks it’s in Germany’s interest to make sure no one who poses a security risk should be allowed to remain in the country. That’s one possible outcome of the HBW surveys. But when it comes to cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies, “it could be problematic,” Pfaff says.

The 1980s it came out that the information Turkish refugees had given the HBW/BND somehow landed at the Turkish intelligence agency. A BND officer at the time testified that it be “grave misconduct” if the authorities had been responsible for such a huge slip-up. But the agencies do work together with Turkish intelligence agencies on projects including those in the area of anti-terrorism.

The methods, explanation and assertions from that case sound oddly similar. Three years ago, an insider published an essay under the pseudonym Jack Dawson in the Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies. He wrote that the HBW was a part of a larger interrogation program in Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. called the Tripartite Debriefing Programme. France is said to have taken part earlier in its existence.

British and U.S. intelligence officials celebrated the 50th anniversary of the HBW along with their German counterparts in Berlin in 2008.

After Dawson’s revelations British and American intelligence officers began questioning asylum seekers in Germany sometimes even without their German colleagues. Asked in late October, Dawson said that, to the best of his knowledge, the Tripartite program still runs strong. The goal remains the same: gain intelligence from the refugee questioning sessions.

You could even say: whoever wants German protection isn’t safe from American intelligence agencies.

Confronted with Dawson’s information, the German government seems struck by a telling silence. In stilted language, officials refer to rules of confidentiality. “An in-depth answer to the question would reveal details about methods, jeopardizing the future ability and performance of the HBW and BND.” Questions put to U.S. officials about HBW still remains unanswered.

It’s not very easy to pay a visit the HBW headquarters at 150 Hohenzollerndamm in Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district. Surely, that’s by design. In front of the building lies a well-maintained yard. The HBW offices are housed on the fourth floor, where officers can look down from a bay window. But getting up there isn’t simple. There are no stairs that lead to the HBW offices—only an elevator, which requires a key.

There are other HBW offices in Nuremberg, Maiz and Hanover and six refugee reception centers. The German government won’t say anything on the topic. It merely confirms that there is a duty station at the border transit camp in Friedland, in central Germany. In total, just 40 people work at the HBW.

Meanwhile the interviewers have switched their focus towards Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Syria. At the end of 2012, in response to questions posed by the Green Party, the German government said that since 2000, some 500 to 1,000 “briefings” with refugees and emigrants were conducted, each applicant enduring two to five question sessions each.

But not every asylum seeker is telling the truth. In 1999, the Iraqi Rafed Ahmed Alwan came to the refugee reception center in Zirndorf, near Nuremberg and was questioned there. He provided the BND with information about purported biochemical weapon laboratories in Iraq, which was forwarded to American officials. The C.I.A. gave him the codename Curveball. His statements were later used by the U.S. government to justify the invasion into Iraq.

But the alleged facts were wrong. There were no labs. Alwan, AKA Curveball, got a Germany passport and a contract at some sham offices at, of all places, the BND.

Coincidentally, the BND currently seeks “freelancers” who speak Somali. Applicants are asked to discreetly submit their letters of interest.

November 20, 2013 02:54 pm CET
By Christian Fuchs, John Goetz, Hans Leyendecker, Klaus Ott, Niklas Schenck, Tanjev Schultz

Find this story at 20 November 2013

© Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

Misleidende methode (NL 2003)

Ahmed was in Irak advocaat van iemand uit de `inner cicle’ van Saddam Hoessein. De CIA en de BVD waren zeer geïnteresseerd in zijn ervaringen en spraken hem meerdere malen na zijn aankomst in 1999 in Nederland. Ahmed vertelt: `”Natuurlijk”, zei meneer Bert van de BVD, “krijg je een verblijfsvergunning voor bewezen diensten.”‘ Eerst moest Ahmed echter alles wat hij wist netjes aan de geheime dienst vertellen. Zijn advocaat, mr. Schoorl uit Alkmaar, moest hem duidelijk maken dat de bvdgeen verblijfsvergunningen verstrekt.

Dit boek is een vervolg op De vluchteling achtervolgd, het in 1990 door Buro Jansen & Janssen uitgevoerde onderzoek naar de bemoeienissen van de BVD met vluchtelingen en asielzoekers. De belangrijkste conclusie van dat onderzoek was toen dat het voor de betrokken asielzoekers en vluchtelingen vaak erg onduidelijk en verwarrend was dat de bvdook via de politie opereert. Het onderscheid tussen de vreemdelingendienst van de politie (destijds verantwoordelijk voor procedures rond verblijfsvergunningen) en de inlichtingendienst (die mensen werft als informant) was niet altijd duidelijk. Omdat die twee functies in de praktijk vaak ook nog werden gecombineerd door een en dezelfde persoon, was het voor nieuwkomers extra moeilijk om erachter te komen waar ze aan toe waren.
Voor de betrokken asielzoeker betekende dit systeem van `dubbele petten’ dat er weinig overeind bleef van het officiële recht om medewerking aan het werk van inlichtingendiensten te weigeren. Helemaal omdat, zoals uit dat onderzoek bleek, middelen als intimidatie, bedreiging en misleiding (`Als je niet meewerkt, waarom zouden we je dan een asielstatus verstrekken?’) niet werden geschuwd.
De vluchteling achtervolgd deed bij verschijning in 1991 behoorlijk wat stof opwaaien. Er was veel media-aandacht voor het onderzoek en het leidde tot Kamervragen. Het boekje zorgde voor verspreiding van kennis over de risico’s van samenwerking met inlichtingendiensten.

Nieuw onderzoek

Tien jaar later is er veel veranderd, maar de pogingen om asielzoekers en migranten te werven als informant gaan door. De politieke verhoudingen in de wereld hebben zich gewijzigd: het zijn nu andere landen waar vluchtelingen vandaan komen, en ze komen deels om andere redenen. Tegelijkertijd staan terrorisme en mensensmokkel hoog op de politieke agenda. De asielprocedures zijn aangescherpt en het is nu niet langer de Vreemdelingendienst maar de Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst IND, van het ministerie van Justitie) die verantwoordelijk is voor de toelatingsprocedure. De IND heeft haar eigen Bureau Bijzondere Zaken voor onderzoek naar asielzoekers die van een misdrijf worden verdacht, en om de inlichtingendiensten van interessante informatie te kunnen voorzien.
In dezelfde periode is het werk van inlichtingendiensten en het opsporingsonderzoek van politie en justitie naar elkaar toe geschoven, deels overlapt het elkaar zelfs. Dit levert onduidelijke situaties op waar ook asielzoekers en migranten mee te maken kunnen krijgen. Zo let de AIVD niet langer alleen op de politieke achtergrond van asielzoekers en migranten (een inlichtingentaak), de dienst doet ook onderzoek naar mensensmokkel en georganiseerde misdaad (meer opsporingswerk). Dit alles in nauwe samenwerking met gespecialiseerde politiediensten binnen heel Europa.
De afgelopen jaren zijn de procedures voor een verblijfsvergunning in Nederland strenger geworden, en de mogelijkheden er een te krijgen kleiner. Voor asielzoekers, die toch al in een kwetsbare positie verkeren, werd de afhankelijkheid van Nederlandse instanties daardoor versterkt. Tegen deze achtergrond waren wij benieuwd hoe het nu toegaat bij het benaderen van asielzoekers.

Openlijke controle

Dit hernieuwd onderzoek naar de bemoeienissen van inlichtingendiensten met asielzoekers en migranten vond plaats vanuit de doelstelling die Buro Jansen & Janssen al jarenlang nastreeft: meer openheid over en controle op politie, justitie en inlichtingendiensten. Zonder publicatie van praktijken die anders geheim zouden blijven, is geen openbare controle mogelijk.
Daarnaast streven we naar de versterking van de positie van asielzoekers, die zich tijdens de procedure voor een verblijfsvergunning in een onzekere positie bevinden. Voor hen moet duidelijk zijn wanneer ze met de IND te maken hebben inzake hun eigen asielverzoek, en wanneer het belang van inlichtingendiensten vooropstaat. Met deze publicatie in de hand kunnen advocaten, vluchtelingenorganisaties en andere belangenbehartigers een asielzoeker die benaderd is beter bijstaan of, zo mogelijk, voorkomen dat het zover komt.
Dit boek Misleidende Methode begint met enige achtergrondinformatie over de positie van asielzoekers in Nederland en de procedures waarmee ze te maken krijgen. Hoofdstuk 2 gaat over de Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst. De IND speelt een centrale rol in de asielprocedure en het horen van asielzoekers. Wat gebeurt er met de informatie uit de vertrouwelijke gehoren van asielzoekers? Welk onderzoek doet de IND zelf? En wat is hierbij de rol van het Bureau Bijzondere Zaken van de IND? Voor welke asielzoekers bestaat bijzondere belangstelling?
Centraal in hoofdstuk 3 staat de BVD(tegenwoordig AIVD)en de manier waarop deze dienst informatie verzamelt onder vluchtelingen. Wie benadert de BVD, en waarom juist deze mensen? Op welke manier gebeurt dat, en zijn degenen die benaderd worden om informatie te leveren gezien hun (kwetsbare) positie in staat om medewerking te weigeren? Is het voor hen mogelijk een inschatting te maken van de gevolgen van het praten met de BVD?
In hoofdstuk 4 onderzoeken we de samenwerking tussen de verschillende diensten die zich bezighouden met het verzamelen van informatie over asielzoekers en migranten. De IND, haar afdeling Bureau Bijzondere Zaken, de BVD, de Vreemdelingendienst en buitenlandse inlichtingendiensten azen allemaal op bepaalde informatie. Hoe werken zij samen? In hoeverre hebben zij toegang tot elkaars informatie, en is er overleg? Is deze samenwerking inzichtelijk en controleerbaar, of kunnen asielzoekers en migranten alleen maar hopen dat informatie over hen niet bij de inlichtingendienst van hun land van herkomst terechtkomt?
In de conclusies komen de lijnen uit de voorgaande hoofdstukken samen en kijken we naar de ontwikkelingen op dit gebied die plaatsvonden in de onderzoeksperiode, van de publicatie van De vluchteling achtervolgd (begin jaren negentig) tot in het begin van de nieuwe eeuw. Wat is er in die tijd veranderd? En waar gaat het naartoe?

Verantwoording
Tot slot een verantwoording over de gebezigde onderzoeksmethoden en bronnen. We hebben gebruikgemaakt van informatie die openbaar was en informatie die we met een beroep op de Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur openbaar hebben gemaakt (zie literatuurlijst).
Daarnaast hebben we voor dit onderzoek honderden telefoontjes gepleegd: met asielzoekers, vluchtelingen en migranten, met advocaten, vluchtelingen- en migrantenorganisaties, met deskundigen van universiteiten en met journalisten. In enkele tientallen gevallen leidde dit tot gesprekken met de asielzoeker en/of migrant zelf of zijn belangenbehartiger. Sommigen van hen zijn met naam en toenaam terug te vinden in de voorbeelden die dit boek illustreren, anderen bleven om begrijpelijke redenen liever anoniem.
Het was niet makkelijk om met asielzoekers te spreken over hun ervaringen met inlichtingendiensten. Sommigen waren bang dat dit gevolgen voor hun procedure voor verblijfsrecht in Nederland zou hebben. Anderen waren bang voor repercussies uit de eigen gemeenschap als ze te boek kwamen staan als iemand die contacten met inlichtingendiensten had gehad. Vaak wilden mensen maar liever niet herinnerd worden aan die gesprekken.
We hebben ook veel migrantenorganisaties aangeschreven en gesproken. Politieke organisaties van bijvoorbeeld Turkse, Koerdische of Iraanse migranten hadden wel ervaringen met informanten, maar verkozen om daarmee niet in de openbaarheid te treden. Anders dan tien jaar geleden hadden ze er nu ieder hun eigen reden voor om de zaken in eigen kring af te handelen.
Degenen die wel met ons spraken, deden dat omdat ze het belangrijk vonden hun teleurstelling en frustratie over de werkwijze van inlichtingendiensten met andere vluchtelingen(organisaties) te delen. Sommige verhalen mochten we slechts als achtergrondinformatie gebruiken, andere konden wemet of zonder de naam van degene die het betrof publiceren. Instemming van de betrokkenen stond voor ons voorop bij het maken van dit boek.

Een van onze informatiebronnen vraagt om wat nadere toelichting, en dat is Hilbrand Nawijn. Het is van belang te weten dat wij voor dit onderzoek met hem spraken in augustus 2001. Hij was toen vreemdelingenadvocaat; daarvoor was hij jarenlang directeur van de IND. Na het gesprek is hij een paar maanden minister van Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie geweest voor de Lijst Pim Fortuyn, de [kk]lpf[kx]. Nawijn gaf ons achtergrondinformatie over het functioneren van Bureau Bijzondere Zaken van de IND.

Opvallend is dat we vooral met mannen gesproken hebben. Onduidelijk is of de inlichtingendiensten vooral mannen benaderen, bijvoorbeeld omdat die vaker `interessante’ functies in het leger hebben, en wij dus bij navraag naar deze gesprekken automatisch bij mannen terechtkwamen. Het kan ook zijn dat vrouwen die benaderd zijn hierover geen contact hebben gezocht met bijvoorbeeld hun advocaat, waardoor hun verhaal onbekend bleef.

Hoofdstuk 1
De procedure

Hoofdstuk 2
Het hemd van het lijf gevraagd: de IND op het inlichtingenpad

Hoofdstuk 3
Asielzoekers bespied

Hoofdstuk 4
Samen weten we nog net iets meer

Conclusie

Nawoord

Tips

Find misleidende methode

Find vluchteling achtervolgd

Find a report of the CTIVD

Geheimer Krieg BND will umstrittene Befragungsstelle auflösen

Die sogenannte Hauptstelle für Befragungswesen ist wenig bekannt, aber sehr umstritten: Asylbewerber werden dort von deutschen und ausländischen Geheimdienstlern ausgehorcht. Die Bundesregierung bestätigt nun diese Praxis. Lange soll es die Stelle aber nicht mehr geben.

Die umstrittene “Hauptstelle für Befragungswesen”, die dem Bundesnachrichtendienst zugeordnet ist, soll aufgelöst werden. Das geht aus einer schriftlichen Antwort der Bundesregierung auf eine Frage von Linksfraktionsvize Jan Korte hervor, die der Nachrichtenagentur dpa vorliegt. Die personelle Ausstattung der Dienststelle sei bereits schrittweise reduziert worden, heißt es darin.

In der Antwort räumt die Regierung ein, dass in der Einrichtung Asylbewerber auch durch Vertreter “der alliierten Partnerdienste ohne deutsche Begleiter” befragt wurden. Es könne außerdem nicht ausgeschlossen werden, dass Informationen aus den Befragungen “auch zum militärischen Lagebild” der Partnerdienste beitragen könnten. Korte kritisierte die Praxis scharf.
500 bis 800 “Vorgespräche”

Nach Recherchen von NDR und Süddeutscher Zeitung im Rahmen des Projekts Geheimer Krieg horchten deutsche Geheimdienstler in der Hauptstelle für Befragungswesen Asylbewerber systematisch aus und gaben Hinweise aus diesen Befragungen an die USA weiter. Diese wiederum nutzen solche Informationen auch für den Einsatz von Kampfdrohnen. Es gibt zudem Hinweise, dass auch britische und amerikanische Nachrichtendienstler in Deutschland Asylbewerber befragen.
Bilder
Geheime Außenstellen des BND Sie sind mitten unter uns

Anzeige

In der Antwort der Regierung heißt es, in den vergangenen zwei bis drei Jahren hätten durchschnittlich 500 bis 800 “Vorgespräche” pro Jahr stattgefunden. Im Anschluss seien etwa 200 bis 300 Personen befragt worden. Seit der Gründung der Dienststelle 1958 seien an den Befragungen alliierte Nachrichtendienste beteiligt.

Wenn ausländische Geheimdienstler alleine mit Asylbewerbern sprächen, habe der BND “im Vor- und Nachgang” die Aufsicht. Die Ergebnisse der Gespräche würden außerdem im “Meldungssystem” des BND erfasst, bei Bedarf “bereinigt” – etwa im Hinblick auf Datenschutz – und erst dann an die ausländischen Partner weitergegeben. 60 Prozent der erhobenen Informationen der Dienststelle gingen auf diesem Wege an ausländische Geheimdienste.

Korte bezeichnete dies als “absurd”. “Wir sollen mal wieder für dumm verkauft werden”, sagte er der dpa. “Befragungen finden auch durch US-Geheimdienstler statt, aber die Befragungsergebnisse werden angeblich nur nach Prüfung und Freigabe an die USA weitergereicht – und die Befrager haben natürlich alles sofort wieder vergessen und erzählen ihren Dienststellen nichts.”

Zur Nutzung der Informationen aus den Gesprächen mit Asylbewerbern schreibt die Regierung: “Zielsetzung der Befragungen war und ist zu keiner Zeit die Gewinnung von Informationen zur Vorbereitung von Drohneneinsätzen.” Es sei aber nicht auszuschließen, dass die Erkenntnisse auch zum militärischen Lagebild der ausländischen Partner beitragen könnten.
Geheimer Krieg Deutschlands Rolle im “Kampf gegen den Terror”

Eine Serie der Süddeutschen Zeitung und des NDR +++ Panorama-Film “Geheimer Krieg” +++ interaktive Datenbank: Spionen auf der Spur +++ Sonderseite zum Projekt: geheimerkrieg.de +++ alle Artikel finden Sie hier: sz.de/GeheimerKrieg +++ englische Version hier +++
Personal soll reduziert werden

Korte reagierte empört: “Erschreckend ist, dass die Regierung die Berichterstattung der letzten Wochen komplett bestätigen muss, aber scheinbar keinerlei Problem erkennen kann”, sagte er. Niemand könne ausschließen, dass Erkenntnisse aus den Befragungen auch für das gezielte Töten durch Drohnen benutzt würden. “Das ohnehin fragwürdige geheimdienstliche Abschöpfen von Asylsuchenden muss sofort ersatzlos beendet werden”, forderte er.

Die geplante Auflösung der Hauptstelle zeige, dass die derzeitige Praxis offenbar ohnehin entbehrlich sei. Der BND habe die Dienststelle “seit längerem einer Effizienzkontrolle unterzogen” und das Personal dort reduziert, heißt es weiter in der Antwort der Regierung. Ziel sei, die Befragungen direkt in den Krisenregionen im Ausland zu verstärken.

29. November 2013 20:24

Find this story at 29 November 2013

© Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

Geheimer Krieg Deutsche Behörde horcht Asylbewerber aus

Wer Informationen über mutmaßliche islamistische Terrorgruppen hat, soll schneller als Asylbewerber anerkannt werden: Die geheime “Hauptstelle für Befragungswesen” befragt Flüchtlinge – das Wissen könnten die USA beim Einsatz von Kampf-Drohnen nutzen.

Beim Einsatz von Kampf-Drohnen greifen US-Geheimdienste auch auf Informationen zurück, die von Asylbewerbern in Deutschland stammen. Nach Angaben eines früheren hochrangigen Pentagon-Mitarbeiters fließen solche Erkenntnisse in das “Zielerfassungssystem” der US-Dienste ein. Selbst scheinbar banale Informationen könnten manchmal reichen, “ein Ziel zu bestätigen – und vielleicht auch dafür, einen Tötungsbefehl auszulösen”. Deutsche Behörden würden angeblich die USA systematisch mit Hinweisen versorgen, die von Flüchtlingen stammen. Dazu können auch die Handydaten von Terrorverdächtigen gehören.

Nach Recherchen der Süddeutschen Zeitung und des Norddeutschen Rundfunks spielt dabei die geheimnisumwitterte “Hauptstelle für Befragungswesen” (HBW), die dem Kanzleramt untersteht, eine zentrale Rolle. Die Bundesregierung macht über die Struktur des HBW selbst bei Anfragen im Parlament keine genauen Angaben. Die Behörde war ursprünglich von den Westalliierten eingerichtet und dann 1958 von der damaligen Bundesregierung übernommen worden. Sie wurde dem Bundesnachrichtendienst zugeordnet.
Geheimer Krieg
Wie Geheimdienste Asylbewerber benutzen

Yusuf A. war in Somalia ein Mann mit Macht, ein Politiker mit Geld und mehreren Autos. Dann muss er nach Deutschland fliehen. Bei Gesprächen über seinen Asylantrag sind nicht nur Beamte vom Bundesamt für Flüchtlinge anwesend. geheimerkrieg.de

Es gibt Hinweise, dass auch britische und amerikanische Nachrichtendienstler in Deutschland Asylbewerber befragen. Manchmal angeblich sogar allein, ohne deutsche Kollegen. In einer internationalen Fachzeitschrift berichtete ein Insider, die Hauptstelle sei Teil eines gemeinsamen Befragungsprogramms von Deutschland, Großbritannien und den USA.
Die HBW führt heute nach amtlichen Angaben jährlich 500 bis 1000 Vorgespräche mit Flüchtlingen und befragt anschließend 50 bis 100 von ihnen intensiv. Ein Schwerpunkt der Befragungen liegt derzeit offenbar bei Flüchtlingen aus Somalia, Afghanistan und Syrien.

Das Bundesinnenministerium teilte jüngst auf eine Anfrage der Linken zur Aufnahme von Syrern mit, dass derzeit jeden Monat etwa zehn Flüchtlinge von der HBW “kontaktiert” würden.

Dolmetschern und Anwälten zufolge, die Asylbewerber betreuen, interessiert sich die Hauptstelle vor allem für Flüchtlinge, die Angaben über mutmaßliche islamistische Terrorgruppen machen können. Wer mit der Hauptstelle kooperiere, werde oft mit einer schnellen Anerkennung als Asylbewerber belohnt und dürfe in der Bundesrepublik bleiben.

Die Bundesregierung bestreitet, dass es solche Belohnungen gibt und betont, zudem seien die Befragungen freiwillig. Über eine Zusammenarbeit von HBW und BND äußert sich die Regierung nicht. Sie ließ eine umfassende Anfrage zu der Behörde weitgehend unbeantwortet. Detaillierte Angaben würden die “weitere Arbeitsfähigkeit und Aufgabenerfüllung von HBW und BND gefährden”, erklärte die Regierung.

Die HBW, die im Kalten Krieg viele Hundert Mitarbeiter hatte, soll heute nur noch knapp vierzig Mitarbeiter beschäftigen. Die Zentrale der Behörde liegt in Berlin. Weitere Büros soll sie in insgesamt sechs Aufnahmelagern für Flüchtlinge haben.

19. November 2013 18:59
Von John Goetz und Hans Leyendecker

Find this story at 19 November 2013

© Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH