German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to US President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that US intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be ‘a serious breach of trust’ if confirmed.
For its part, the White House denied that the US is listening in on Merkel’s phone calls now. “The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges.”
However, Carney did not specifically say that that US had never monitored or obtained Merkel’s communications. The German government said it responded after receiving ‘information that the chancellor’s cellphone may be monitored’ by US intelligence. It wouldn’t elaborate, but German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, said its research triggered the response.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement the chancellor made clear to Obama in a phone call that “she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed... as completely unacceptable”.
Merkel said among close partners such as Germany and the US, “there must not be such surveillance of a head of government’s communication,” Seibert added. “That would be a serious breach of trust. Such practices must be stopped immediately.” Seibert voiced irritation that the Germans had waited for months for proper answers from Washington to Berlin on the NSA operations.
Carney, the White House spokesman, said the US is examining Germany’s concerns as part of an ongoing review of how the US gathers intelligence.
It was the second time in three days that allegations of US surveillance threatened to cloud relations between US and close European allies. The consternation in Berlin followed a furore in France over reports that US intelligence had collected data on communications by French people.
US denies spying on David Cameron
Amid growin anger over NSA surveillance in Germany and the rest of Europe, the US flatly denied ever monitoring communications of British PM David Cameron. Asked if the US had ever spied on Cameron in the past, Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman for the National Security Council replied, “No.”