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New documents expose widespread US espionage on Merkel

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)
This June 7, 2015 photo shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) with US President Barack Obama at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany. (AFP photo)

A German newspaper has cited new classified documents by the online whistleblower WikiLeaks showing that the United States spied extensively on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday that the US National Security Agency (NSA), which was once criticized in Germany for tapping Merkel’s phone, spied on talks Merkel held with the UN chief and key European leaders.

The report said NSA gathered information on a 2008 conversation about climate change between Merkel and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It said during the meeting, Merkel said she had urged European heads of states to take a leading role on the climate issues while Ban hailed Merkel’s personal involvement in tackling climate change.

The founder of WikiLeaks, who is locked up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, also issued an online statement on the fresh documents, saying, “Today we showed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's private meetings over how to save the planet from climate change were bugged by a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies.”

WikiLeaks also released documents about Markel’s meeting in 2011 with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy and then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the Sueddeutsche said. During the meeting, which was reported to be tense and unfriendly, Merkel and Sarkozy called on Berlusconi to reduce public debt and strengthen Italy's banking sector.

The revelations by the WikiLeaks add to previous information released in 2013 by American intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who showed how the US intelligence tapped Merkel's mobile phone. That sparked an unprecedented row between Berlin and Washington.

Since WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, some 500,000 secret military files on US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq along with 250,000 diplomatic cables have been released.

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