US spying on German ministers, says report
February 24, 2014 - 7:01:35 am
BERLIN: The US National Security Agency (NSA) has stepped up its surveillance of senior German government officials since being ordered by Barack Obama to halt its spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bild am Sonntag paper reported yesterday.
Revelations last year about mass US surveillance in Germany, in particular of Merkel’s mobile phone, shocked Germans and sparked the most serious dispute between the transatlantic allies in a decade.
Bild am Sonntag said its information stemmed from a high-ranking NSA employee in Germany and that those being spied on included Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a close confidant of Merkel.
“We have had the order not to miss out on any information now that we are no longer able to monitor the chancellor’s communication directly,” it quoted the NSA employee as saying.
A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said it would not comment on the “allegations of unnamed individuals”.
To calm the uproar over US surveillance abroad, President Obama in January banned US eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies of Washington.
Germans are especially sensitive about snooping due to their experiences in the Nazi era and in Communist East Germany, when the Stasi secret police built up a massive surveillance network.
Berlin has been pushing, so far in vain, for a “no-spy” deal with Washington. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is due to visit the US on Thursday. REUTERS