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Germany’s Merkel Demands ‘Immediate’ Explanation from Obama about Alleged NSA Phone Tapping

With friends like these... (Photo: German government)

With friends like these… (Photo: German government)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned President Barack Obama on Wednesday to demand an “immediate and comprehensive” explanation for alleged US spying on her mobile phone communications.

Der Spiegel reports Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, BND, examined research conducted by the paper which found evidence of NSA surveillance. The nation’s Federal Office for Information Security found allegations of US spying credible enough to warrant confronting the Obama administration.

“The chancellor today telephoned President Obama” and “made clear that she unequivocally disapproves of such practices, should they be confirmed, and regards them as completely unacceptable,” a German government spokesman said in a statement.

“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,” the statement continued, adding that such spying “would be a serious breach of trust.”

Agence France-Presse reports Berlin has demanded “an immediate and comprehensive explanation” from Washington.

“Such practices must be prevented immediately,” Merkel reportedly told Obama.

A spokeswoman for the US National Security Council (NSC) told Der Spiegel that Obama assured Merkel that “the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.”

In recent months, it has emerged that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has indeed been spying on the phone and electronic communications of countless millions of individuals around the world, including the presidents of Brazil and Mexico. This has prompted Brazilian authorities to announce they will move to create a more secure communications infrastructure that would end the nation’s electronic dependence on the United States.

On Wednesday, the Guardian reported that Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade received a promise from President Obama that the US would investigate NSA spying on President Enrique Peña Nieto’s emails.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has also revealed that the US has been spying on the European Union, FranceJapan, TurkeyIndia, the United Nations and others, as well as countless millions of Americans’ and foreigners’ phone and electronic communications. Snowden, who was charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act, sought and was granted temporary political asylum in Russia, where he currently resides.

US government spying on Americans has been ongoing throughout the post-9/11 era, aided by the active cooperation of major telecommunications and Internet companies. Using the war against terrorism as justification, the government has authorized intelligence agencies to conduct warrantless wiretapping and other monitoring of Americans’ communications.

Under President Obama, Justice Department officials have acknowledged that the NSA was guilty of “overcollection” of domestic communications data, but claimed that such illegal acts were unintentional and had ceased. But last New Year’s Eve, President Obama quietly signed into law a reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008, which allows the warrantless wiretapping of phone and electronic communications in which at least one of the parties involved is a foreigner.

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