US denies German media claims that Barack Obama knew NSA was spying on Angela Merkel's phone

 

Trying to contain a spying-on-friends scandal, Washington has denied reports in the German media that President Barack Obama knew about surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone and did not stop it.

The rift between the two allies threatened to worsen as German publications said the surveillance of Ms Merkel had been going on for a decade and that Mr Obama has known since 2010.  Anger over the affair has prompted demands from leading German politicians that Berlin should abandon negotiations over a EU-US free trade agreement until it is resolved.

“We should put the free-trade talks on ice until the allegations against America’s National Security Agency have been answered,” noted Ilse Aigner, Bavaria’s conservative Economics Minister, echoing calls by Sigmar Gabriel, the Social Democrat leader.

As the explosive reports surfaced last Wednesday, the Chancellor made an angry personal phone call to Mr Obama, who is said to have apologised and told her he had not known it was happening. Der Spiegel said he had told her he would have stopped it if he had known.

But a report in Sunday’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper flatly contradicted the suggestion that Mr Obama had not known. The paper quoted US intelligence sources as saying that in 2010 General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, NSA, had personally briefed Mr Obama about the phone tapping operation which targeted Ms Merkel. “Obama did not halt the operation, but rather let it continue,” the newspaper quoted a senior NSA source as saying. Ms Merkel’s number was said to have been on a NSA surveillance list into 2013.

But in a statement on Sunday night, the NSA denied the Bild report. Gen. Alexander, “did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel. News reports claiming otherwise are not true,” it said.

Der Spiegel magazine reported that the NSA had set up a listening post in Berlin’s heavily fortified American embassy, from which it had monitored Ms Merkel’s mobile phone calls. It said the surveillance was run by a unit called the Special Collections Services and began in 2002, three years before she became leader.

The magazine said the unit monitored all communications in the German capital’s government quarter, which is less than 300 yards away from the US embassy near the Brandenburg Gate. It said the NSA ran similar units at 80 locations worldwide, including 19 European cities.

Berlin will send senior intelligence chiefs to Washington this week in  an attempt to “push forward” an investigation into the NSA’s German surveillance operation, which was first reported in leaked US intelligence documents last June. More that 60 million German calls were said to have been monitored in a single day.

News
i100'Geography can be tough'
News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DevOps Engineer - Linux, Shell, Bash, Solaris, UNIX, Salt-Stack

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: A fast growing Financial Services organisation b...

Trade Desk FIX Analyst - (FIX, SQL, Equities, Support)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: An award-win...

DevOps Engineer - (Linux, Shell, Bash)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer - (Linux, Shell, Bash)DevOps Eng...

Retail Business Architect

Flexible for the right candidate: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: I have a fa...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis