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.
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...