'That's Just Not Done': Merkel Comments on Spying Allegations

While leading coalition talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also having to deal with accusations that American intelligence eavesdropped on her mobile phone. Zoom
AFP

While leading coalition talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also having to deal with accusations that American intelligence eavesdropped on her mobile phone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel broke her silence Thursday over German allegations that US intelligence agencies tapped her cell phone. Upon arriving at an EU summit in Brussels, Merkel told reporters that the trust between Germany and the US "now has to be built anew."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded sharply Thursday to reports that her cell phone has been the target of United States intelligence gathering. "Spying between friends, that's just not done," she said upon arriving in Brussels for a planned, two-day summit of European Union leaders.

The chancellor confirmed to reporters that she told US President Barack Obama by phone on Wednesday that there needs to be trust among allies and that "such trust now has to be built anew." Spying among friends is unacceptable, Merkel continued, "This applies to every citizen in Germany. Thus, as chancellor, I am responsible for enforcing it."

It is the first time that Merkel has personally commented on the spying allegations, which were brought to the chancellor's attention by a SPIEGEL inquiry. Her spokesman publicly raised the issue on Wednesday, forcefully calling on the Obama administration to clarify the claims. On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle took the unusual step of calling a meeting with the American ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson.

'We Need to Take Measures'

Several other EU leaders at the summit in Brussels echoed Germany's concerns about US spying. "Facts are facts. We cannot accept this systematic spying, whatever it may be," said Elio di Rupo, the Belgian prime minister. "We need to take measures and I can't imagine measures at the national level. We need to take European measures."

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said: "Our capacity to search for this kind of information is to hinder terrorism, criminal activities, the risk of war. That should be clear."

"This is serious," intoned Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, "I will support [Merkel] completely in her complaint and say that this is not acceptable. I think we need all the facts on the table first."

The latest revelations come on the heels of a French newspaper report this week that the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored millions of French phone calls, prompting Paris to summon the US ambassador for an explanation.

Meanwhile, Merkel is facing domestic political pressures, as she attempts to form a coalition government between her conservative Christian Democratic Union and the opposition Social Democrats before Christmas.

chw -- with wires

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1. Well,
africa 10/24/2013
Ms Merkel has has for months ignored the American NSA spying on the German public. Only now, after discovering that this spying also included her cell phone, does she finally stand up for the rights of her citizens, at least in words. It is inexcusable, it’s a disgrace that it took her months before she finally fulfils her oath of office, namely to protect the rights of the German public.
2. Silly
sneeekysteve 10/25/2013
This whole thing is theatre. Everyone knows that the United States is like God. We spy on everyone, and we judge who is good and who is bad. We reward the good countries and punish the bad ones. That's the way the world has worked for the whole post war era. Why are you just discovering it now?
3. To us Americans, spying on Germany doesn't seem quite as bad as spying on us
angrypancho 10/25/2013
I think I can argue that all our US government officials should be fitted with electronic locator devices and that all their phone, mail or internet communications should be made public by law. After all, it's clear that we, the people, have to guard against corruption in our government officials. I imagine Germany has almost as strong an argument for being given access to American communications. Certainly if one partner feels there's a need to surveill the other, the other partner can assert the same.
4. Sorry, Angela Merkel, you are also to blame
fung.pee 10/25/2013
The German government MUST have been aware of NSA activities in the country, after all it is kind of hard to hide 45 foot diameter golf-balls - aka RADOMES - no matter what colour you paint them. What about the 'military' (NSA) surveillance centre in Wiesbaden? The NSA is part of the Department of Defence. Why no German workers, why only US workers and US materials? DON'T US WORKERS NEED VISAS? Or Angela could drive her newly gifted car to the NSA Dagger complex in Griesheim near Darmstadt where around 1000 USA intelligence agents work - mainly under the ground. And Germany’s Foreign Ministry declared that “the administrative agreement from 1968/69 in connection with the G10 law” with the US and the UK was being suspended “by mutual consent.” You didn't hear about this, Angela? Maybe you need to chat with your colleagues. Booz Allen Hamilton (Edward Snowden's former employer), was granted a license for “intelligence operations” in Germany, according to a German Foreign Ministry source from November 28, 2008.
5. US Monitoring is like DOUBLE INSURANCE
spon-facebook-10000106540 10/27/2013
The US Spying on friends, should not be taken so much with an animosity. As a matter of fact, this is a kind of a Double Insurance Just in case the Local/In-house Intelligence fails to pick up an enemy signal, it get caught on the way by an even more powerful Detector. Thereby saving lives and preventing losses.
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