Monday

17th Jun 2019

Merkel outraged after NSA allegedly tapped her phone

  • Merkel - was her phone tapped? (Photo: Bundesregierung)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday (23 October) phoned American President Obama to demand explanations about media reports that her phone was spied upon by US intelligence services.

"The chancellor made clear that she unequivocally disapproves of such practices, should they be confirmed, and regards them as completely unacceptable," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a press statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Earlier that day, Spiegel Online reported that the National Security Agency had tapped her phone, as part of its large-scale spying operations abroad, revealed by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The White House said President Obama sought to reassure the German leader that there is no current monitoring of her communications.

"I can tell you that the president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said during a press conference.

He could not confirm, however, that the NSA has not intercepted Merkel's phone calls and text messages in the past.

Merkel sought to avoid a diplomatic scandal with the US over the NSA spying affair in the run-up to her re-election in September, despite revelations that Germans' communications are being snooped.

During a visit to Berlin in summer, Obama tried to reassure Merkel and German citizens that there are no illegal spying activities and that all leads are shared with EU partners in the fight against terrorism.

But more details have emerged since, including the cooperation of the German intelligence services with the NSA in this large surveillance of online communications.

France meanwhile also has been exposed as a target of the NSA's surveillance, with the US intelligence agency reportedly sweeping up to 70.3 million telephone records in one month, Le Monde reported

"Why are these practices, as they're reported – which remains to be clarified – unacceptable? First because they are taking place between partners, between allies, and then because they clearly are an affront to private life," French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Wednesday.

In Italy a similar scandal is brewing after media reports that members of a parliamentary committee were told during a visit to Washington that phone calls, emails and text messages of Italians had been intercepted.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta raised the surveillance issue during a meeting on Wednesday with US secretary of state John Kerry.

MEPs call for halt to bank data deal

Meanwhile, the European Parliament on Wednesday became the first EU institution to take a stance against the spying scandal.

In a non-binding vote, a majority of MEPs asked for an EU-US agreement on transferring banking data to be suspended due to the NSA scandal.

The agreement can only be halted if two thirds of member states agree.

But MEPs also said they may withhold their consent to future international agreements if the EU response to the NSA scandal is not satisfactory.

The EU commission earlier this summer started negotiations on an EU-US free trade agreement, one such deal that could be affected by the political fallout of the spying scandal.

US spying to trump economy at EU summit

A meeting of EU leaders is likely to be diverted from its official agenda - innovation and eurozone integration - as the US spying scandal flares up in France and Germany.

Merkel to seek intelligence rule book with US

France and Germany plan to negotiate an agreement on the work of intelligence agencies with the US, as the latest revelations of US snooping dominated day one of the EU's October summit.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  2. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  3. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  4. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  5. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  6. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  7. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  8. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us