‘Unacceptable’: Merkel calls Obama over suspicion US monitored her cell phone
Earlier, the German government spokesman said that Berlin had
information the US National Security Agency (NSA) could have been
spying on Merkel.
This was followed by the country's Foreign Minister Guido
Westerwelle summoning the US ambassador to provide more clarity
on the matter.
“We swiftly sent a request to our American partners asking for
an immediate and comprehensive clarification,” Steffen
Seibert said in a statement, Reuters cites.
Berlin demanded that American authorities shed light on the scale
of its spying on Germany if it took place and thus finally answer
the questions that the Federal government asked “several
months ago,” Seibert said.
Merkel called Barack Obama over the issue and demanded an explanation. She had made clear to Obama that if the information proved trued it would be “completely unacceptable” and represent a “grave breach of trust,” Seibert said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama assured the German leader “the United States is not monitoring the communications of the chancellor.”
Earlier this year, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the American spy organization intercepted large amounts of data exchanged between German citizens without any legal authorization. The scandalous revelations outraged Germans and sparked widespread demonstrations in the country which is wary of surveillance, largely due to its Stasi past.
While German opposition politicians, the media and activists have been vocal in their anger over the American eavesdropping, Merkel remained restrained in her comments on the matter.
In June, during Obama’s visit to Berlin, Merkel said she was surprised by the scope of the American data collection efforts, but admitted that Germany was “dependent” on cooperation with US agencies. She said that it was thanks to "tips from American sources" that an Islamic terror plot in Germany was foiled in 2007. She added though that it was important to continue the debate about reaching “an equitable balance” between providing security and protecting personal freedoms.
Interior Ministry spokesman Jens Teschke said Wednesday the German government was still in talks with the Americans about the spying issue.
"[But] we have recognized that many of the allegations made by
Mr. Snowden can't be substantiated, and on other issues that
there was no mass surveillance of innocent citizens,” he
said, as quoted by AP agency.
Earlier in July, US fugitive Snowden accused Germany and the US of partnering in spy intelligence operations, revealing that cooperation between the countries is closer than German indignation would indicate. “They are in bed with the Germans, just like with most other Western states,” Der Spiegel magazine quoted the former NSA contractor as saying.