NSA spied on German Chancellors for 10 yrs, tapped 125 govt phone numbers – WikiLeaks
The National Security Agency’s (NSA) intercepts published on Wednesday show that Washington has been tapping the phones of the political offices of the last three German chancellors – Angela Merkel, Gerhard Schröder (in office 1998–2002) and Helmut Kohl (chancellor from 1982 to 1998), the whistleblowing site said in a report Wednesday.
The new list released on Wednesday of the so-called “selectors” includes 56 phone numbers for the Chancellor and the Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt) with almost two dozen telephone numbers which belong to Merkel’s current political entourage.
Washington has been tapping not only the numbers for Chancellor Merkel, but also for her top officials, her aides, her chief of staff, her political office and even her fax machine, WikiLeaks said.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 8, 2015
The list suggests that among the bugged officials were Merkel’s head of office Beate Baumann, Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery and a Federal Minister for Special Affairs Peter Altmaier, State Secretary at the Federal Chancellery and Federal Government Commissioner for the Federal Intelligence Services Klaus-Dieter Fritsche.
It also included the currently valid number of Ronald Pofalla, former Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery and a Federal Minister for Special Affairs from 2009 to 2013. Geza Andreas von Geyr, former department head of a unit of Foreign and Security Policy at the Chancellery responsible for bilateral US relations was also a target.
According to WikiLeaks the report was standardized in 2002, however its roots stem from an earlier target list extending back to the 1990s.
“The intensive nature of US targeting around the Chancellor explains why the White House could easily commit to not targeting Angela Merkel personally in the future, but continues to refuse to make such a commitment for other members of the German government – the Chancellor cannot run the government by talking to herself,” the whistle-blowing group said.
The combined leaks of NSA targets released by WikiLeaks so far suggest that the US has been engaged in long-term surveillance of 125 confidential numbers of top German officials and “did so for political and economic reasons.”
The second NSA intercept published on Wednesday was based on communications between Merkel and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Shaykh Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan in March 2009, where the chancellor expressed her private views about US President Barack Obama's engagement with Iran. Another NSA document detailed Merkel's plans on how to respond to the international financial crisis and the eurozone bank bailout in 2011.
"There is now proof enough of NSA surveillance on German soil. It is time to reopen the investigation and for the NSA to stop engaging in its illegal activities against Germany," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said wrote a statement.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 8, 2015
The new list of German “targets” supplements the one WikiLeaks published on July which includes sixty nine top officials among whom are Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and his deputy ministers.
The spying row shook up US-German relations, with Merkel’s Chief of Staff summoning the US ambassador for a meeting on July 2.
In May, WikiLeaks revealed a similar set of documents concerning France. It showed that the NSA had spied on the last three French presidents and other government officials.
Meanwhile, in June, Germany closed its investigation into the revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel that the US agency tapped Merkel’s phone. German federal prosecutors said that didn’t have substantial evidence that would stand up in court.
Another scandalous revelation made in April suggested that the German BND foreign intelligence agency helped the NSA spy on European firms and officials. However, after that the BND reportedly pulled the plug on the internet surveillance program for the NSA.