German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called President Obama over the German government’s suspicions the US could have tapped her mobile phone. Barack Obama assured Merkel that his country is not monitoring her communications.
Earlier, the German government spokesman said that Berlin had information the US National Security Agency (NSA) could have been spying on Merkel.
“We swiftly sent a request to our American partners asking for an immediate and comprehensive clarification,” Steffen Seibert said in a statement, Reuters cites.
Berlin demanded that American authorities shed light on the scale of its spying on Germany if it took place and thus finally answer the questions that the Federal government asked “several months ago,” Seibert said.
Merkel called Barack Obama over the issue and demanded an explanation. She had made clear to Obama that if the information proved trued it would be “completely unacceptable” and represent a “grave breach of trust,” Seibert said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama assured the German leader “the United States is not monitoring the communications of the chancellor.”
Earlier this year, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the American spy organization intercepted large amounts of data exchanged between German citizens without any legal authorization. The scandalous revelations outraged Germans and sparked widespread demonstrations in the country which is wary of surveillance, largely due to its Stasi past.
While German opposition politicians, the media and activists have been vocal in their anger over the American eavesdropping, Merkel remained restrained in her comments on the matter.
In June, during Obama’s visit to Berlin, Merkel said she was surprised by the scope of the American data collection efforts, but admitted that Germany was “dependent” on cooperation with US agencies. She said that it was thanks to “tips from American sources” that an Islamic terror plot in Germany was foiled in 2007. She added though that it was important to continue the debate about reaching “an equitable balance” between providing security and protecting personal freedoms.
Interior Ministry spokesman Jens Teschke said Wednesday the German government was still in talks with the Americans about the spying issue.
“[But] we have recognized that many of the allegations made by Mr. Snowden can’t be substantiated, and on other issues that there was no mass surveillance of innocent citizens,” he said, as quoted by AP agency.
Earlier in July, US fugitive Snowden accused Germany and the US of partnering in spy intelligence operations, revealing that cooperation between the countries is closer than German indignation would indicate. “They are in bed with the Germans, just like with most other Western states,” Der Spiegel magazine quoted the former NSA contractor as saying.
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