On 8 February, Chancellor Angela Merkel formally opened the Bundesnachrichtendienst’s new headquarters in Berlin. The BND is Germany’s foreign intelligence service. The building has cost 1.1 Billion Euros, covers 25 square acres and houses 4,000 of the BND’s 6,500 staff. The BND’s technical surveillance section has apparently remained at its old base.

The move to the new HQ has been planned since 2001. The building was originally supposed to open in 2011, but has run massively over schedule and over budget. There was considerable embarrassment in 2011 when Chancellor Merkel was forced to confirm rumours that a USB stick containing blueprints of the new building had gone missing, presumed stolen. In 2015, almost all of the brand new taps were stolen from the building. The German media promptly disproved rumours that they do not have a sense of humour by naming this incident “Der Watergate Scandal.”

Until now the BND has been based in a former Nazi settlement at Pullach, a suburb of Munich. The new location is within sight of the German Chancellery building in central Berlin and it is seen by some, especially those on the left in Germany, as a real statement of power and intent. Later this year the BND plans to open a visitor centre in the building. The move brings the BND into line with other national intelligence services who have moved into expensive and prominent headquarters buildings as a sign of their increased power and influence. In London, both MI5 and SIS moved into plush new headquarters buildings, within a biscuit toss of the Houses of Parliament, almost as soon as they were avowed. Neither of them has plans to open a visitor centre.

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