Share This Page

Germans: NSA bugged chancellor

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:39 p.m.
REUTERS
Allegations that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone transmissions were monitored by American intelligence agencies could provide an impediment to a free trade accord between the United States and Europe hoped for by the end of next year.

BERLIN — Furious German officials said on Wednesday that American intelligence agencies may have been monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone, touching off a fresh diplomatic headache for President Obama after a week in which other close allies condemned his administration over allegations of other spying misdeeds.

The German leader called Obama about the issue, forcing him to assure a European leader for the second time this week that the United States has not overstepped boundaries in its eavesdropping programs.

Obama told Merkel, an ally who has been upset since the extent of the U.S. surveillance program was disclosed several months ago, that the United States is not eavesdropping on her telephone calls, the White House said Wednesday. Reports in Germany raised fears that such spying was taking place.

On Monday, Obama placed a phone call to French President François Hollande after furor there over reports that millions of French phone calls had been recorded over a 30-day period last year. A top U.S. intelligence official denied those wiretapping reports.

The accusations in Germany were prompted by reporting by the news magazine Der Spiegel, which has run many stories based on classified National Security Agency documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Der Spiegel said on its website Wednesday that the German intelligence agencies had, after a review of the magazine's technical data, deemed its information about the monitoring of Merkel's cellphone “over years” plausible enough to confront the U.S. government about it.

Merkel told Obama that if the accusations are confirmed, she “unequivocally disapproves of such practices and sees them as completely unacceptable,” her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement, adding that any monitoring “would be a grave breach of trust.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Obama assured Merkel that the United States “is not monitoring and will not monitor” her phone conversations. Asked whether the statement left open the possibility that the NSA has tracked Merkel's calls in the past, Carney said he did not have an answer to that question.

Obama visited Germany in June and met with Merkel, who expressed displeasure that the NSA had been monitoring the communications of German citizens. The new disclosures revived tensions that the White House had hoped had been resolved.

Merkel is a famously avid user of text messaging, and she is frequently photographed checking her smartphone during long sessions of Parliament and on the road.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.