American ambassador summoned.
US President Barack Obama had assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the US is not monitoring her communications, according to the White House spokesman, Al Jazeera reports. Carney’s statement on Wednesday comes in response to the German government’s announcement that it has obtained information suggesting the US may have tapped Merkel’s mobile phone. Merkel called Obama to demand an immediate clarification, her spokesman said in a statement. “She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally,” the statement read. “Between close friends and partners, as Germany and the US have been for decades, there should not be such monitoring of the communications of a government leader. This would be a grave breach of trust. Such practices should be immediately stopped.”
The German government has not said how it received the tip about the alleged US spying, the BBC reports But news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published stories based on material from former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, said the information had come from its investigations. A Der Spiegel report in September that the US NSA had cracked the security codes the protect data on iPhones, Blackberries and Android devices led to demonstrations in Berlin. State-monitoring of phone calls has a particular resonance in Germany – Mrs Merkel herself grew up in East Germany, where phone-tapping was pervasive. Her spokesman said the German leader “views such practices… as completely unacceptable” and had demanded a “complete and comprehensive explanation”.
“Among close friends and partners, as the Federal Republic of Germany and the US have been for decades, there should be no such monitoring of the communications of a head of government,” said Steffen Seibert in a statement. Veteran French European Commissioner Michel Barnier told the BBC “enough is enough” and that confidence in the US had been shaken. Mr Barnier, the commissioner for internal market and services, said Europe must not be naive but develop its own strategic digital tools, such as a “European data cloud” independent of American oversight. Germany’s morning papers echo a sense of outrage.
‘Shared security challenges’
For its part, the White House denied that the US is listening in on Merkel’s phone calls now. “The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” spokesman Jay Carney said. “The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges.” However, Carney did not specifically say that the US had never monitored or obtained Merkel’s communications. The news broke as Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to Rome, faced fresh questions about mass spying on European allies, based on revelations from Edward Snowden, the fugitive ex-US intelligence operative granted asylum in Russia.