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Germany calls in US envoy over fresh spying revelations

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
German chancellor Angela Merkel (© AFP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office has called in the US envoy to Berlin over the latest revelations about the scale of spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) on a number of senior German officials.

“We confirm that US ambassador (John B.) Emerson was invited to the chancellery to talk,” AFP quoted an unidentified German government source as saying on Thursday.

The announcement came shortly after the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Peter Altmaier, Merkel’s chief of staff, had invited Emerson to the chancellery.

However, it was not clear as of the time of this report whether the meeting had already taken place.

Citing documents from Whistleblower website WikiLeaks dating back to between 2010 and 2012, German media reported on July 1 that the NSA did not just tap Merkel’s cell phone calls but also eavesdropped on several German ministers.

According to the media reports, the NSA targeted 69 telephone and fax numbers belonging to top officials in the German administration.

In reaction, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Berlin would look at the new spying reports, adding, “We have become more distrustful.”

The office of Germany’s federal prosecutor also announced that it was considering reopening an inquiry into the NSA activities in Germany in light of the new spying evidence.

Last month, Germany’s attorney general dropped an investigation into the suspected tapping by the US intelligence services of Merkel’s cell phone calls, citing a lack of evidence for the case to succeed in court.

American whistleblower Edward Snowden talks as he participates via video link from Russia to a parliamentary hearing on the subject of “Improving the protection of whistleblowers” at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, northeastern France, June 24, 2015. (© AFP)

German weekly Der Spiegel said in a report published in October 2013 that it had seen secret documents from the NSA supplied by American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealing that Merkel’s cell phone had been listed by the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 and may have been monitored for over 10 years.

The development affected relations between Germany and the US, with Berlin asking for explanations from Washington. The US, however, denied spying on the German chancellor.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked two top secret US government spying programs in June 2013, which showed that the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data.


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