The German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) intelligence agents are conducting dubious security checks of El Al passengers and acquaintances of passengers at Berlin's SchÃ¶nefeld airport.
According to the report, Israeli security agents are questioning people who accompany passengers to the airport and are not scheduled to fly to Tel Aviv. The article cited a Potsdam police spokesman and an unnamed Israeli security agent as the basis of their report.
The police spokesman said he had been misquoted by Der Spiegel as saying this had happened several times in the past, and that he was only aware of one, recent complaint.
Der Spiegel wrote that Israeli agents are requesting inspections of a personal identity card or passport and "Israeli security forces have issued inspections of people outside of the designated check-in areas."
The article listed one case in which a wife of an El Al passenger was followed into a book shop and questioned about the reason for her husband's trip. Yet the Potsdam police spokesman, JÃ¶rg Kunzendorf, who remained unnamed in the report, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that he "cannot judge if there was a reason" for the questioning without examining the facts of the case.
He said a passenger complained to the newsweekly in Jerusalem, and that prompted the press query on the police in Potsdam.
He noted that "in general the security measures are stricter" with El Al.
German Jewish and Israeli institutions in the country maintain high levels of security because of death threats and anti-Israel sentiment.
Der Spiegel wrote that Kunzendorf had said that there had been instances of passengers complaining in the past, but he told the Post that he was only aware of the recent case involving the wife and her husband.
In the report, Kunzendorf said the "Israelis are in "no way allowed excessive powers."
He told the Post, however, that the security measures are a component of the "contract between passengers and the airline company" and it is "left to the passengers to recognize or not recognize" the conditions of the flight agreement.
Der Spiegel cited an anonymous "Israeli secret service agent" who termed the conduct of the Israeli security forces as "strange."
In addition to the Israeli secret service agent, the El Al passengers in the report were also unnamed, without an explanation for maintaining their confidentiality.