Berlin/Washington (dpa) – US intelligence agencies might have monitored the mobile phone belonging to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a German government spokesman said Wednesday.
The German government has obtained such information and has asked Washington for an “immediate and comprehensive explanation,” Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Merkel spoke by telephone Wednesday with US President Barack Obama and “made clear that she unequivocally condemns and regards such practices as fully unacceptable, if the information is proven true,” Seibert said.
Obama assured Merkel that US agencies were not monitoring her mobile telephone communications, the White House said. “The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. The White House later declined to clarify to dpa whether Merkel’s telephone calls had been monitored in the past.
The White House stressed in a statement that Washington “greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges” and that the countries would continue to cooperate on intelligence matters. The phone call was made a day before Merkel was expected in Brussels for a European Union summit, where EU leaders were expected to discuss data protection in the wake of allegations of widespread US monitoring of internet traffic and phone calls.
German news website Spiegel Online reported that its own inquiry into the alleged monitoring of Merkel’s mobile phone prompted the German government reaction. German security agencies gave no immediate reaction late Wednesday. The German government said in a statement that as a close ally of the United States, Berlin expects clear rules about activities of intelligence agencies and their future cooperation.