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March 21, 2023

Obama: Spying must not hurt U.S. – German ties

President Barack Obama has said he will not let controversial surveillance by U.S. intelligence services undermine Washington’s ties with Germany, according to the BBC. Speaking to Germany’s ZDF TV, he indicated that U.S. bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been a mistake and would not happen again. After the row broke out last year, Merkel accused the U.S. of an unacceptable breach of trust. On Friday, Obama ordered curbs on how intelligence was being collected. On Saturday, the U.S. president told ZDF: “I don’t need and don’t want to harm that (US-German) relationship by a surveillance mechanism that somehow would impede the kind of communication and trust that we have.”
The interview was broadcast a day after the president ordered restrictions on the use of bulk data collected by US intelligence agencies, saying civil liberties must be respected. Details of the times, numbers and durations of phone calls – known as metadata – are currently collected and held by the National Security Agency (NSA). But Obama said he was ending that system “as it currently exists”.
He asked the attorney general and the intelligence community to draw up plans for metadata to be held by a third party, with the NSA requiring legal permission to access them. He also pledged that the NSA would not be spying on the leaders of close allies.

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