Germany brushes off US help on election cybersecurity: report
German intelligence has informed the United States that it is not looking for help staving off the same kind of election hacking attributed to Russia during the U.S. campaign, NBC News reported Tuesday.
The refusal is “a sign of the lack of trust that seems to be growing between Germany and the United States,” NBC said.
The German election pitting conservative Prime Minister Angela Merkel against her party’s center-left opposition is seen as a potential target for hacking efforts similar to those Russia used against the U.S. last year. The German opposition party, the Social Democrats, were thought to take a far gentler position against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in the past, though candidate Martin Schulz has warned against the lifting of sanctions.
During a speech Tuesday, Merkel said the European Union had to “take our fate into our own hands,” referring to earlier calls for the EU to stop trusting that the United States.
Merkel and other NATO leaders met with President Trump last week. On Sunday, she said at a campaign event, “The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over.”
Countries around Europe anticipate Russian interference in elections in the near future, especially with a wave of nationalist candidates that may weaken NATO and the unified European Union — two priorities of President Vladimir Putin.
In the recent French election, Russia reportedly hacked French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign, according to the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. It is unclear if that attack had anything to do with Macron emails leaked just days before the vote. Macron had run against the nationalist Marine Le Pen.
The U.S. had taken an active interest in monitoring European elections for Russian interference after its own tribulations throughout the 2016 campaign, which included hacking of political parties, individuals and voter registrations.
Germany has been the target of believed Russian hacking in the past. In 2014, its Parliment was hacked by one of the groups that would go on to target the Democratic National Committee.