Angry Merkel calls Obama over reports NSA tapped her phone
US 'scrambling' to head off diplomatic incident as yet another ally accuses NSA of eavesdropping
ANGELA MERKEL'S angry call to President Obama over reports her mobile phone calls may have been monitored by the NSA is the "most significant protest by a world leader" since Edward Snowden began leaking details of US intelligence operations, the Daily Telegraph says.
The call has left the White House "scrambling to head off a major diplomatic incident", the paper reports.
Obama assured Merkel that the United States is "not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel", a spokeswoman for the NSA said. But Der Speigel makes the pointed observation that the spokeswoman "did not wish to specify whether this statement applied to the past".
The highly nuanced answer was also analysed by the Telegraph. A German government source told the paper: "I would just urge you to look at the tenses used by the White House. They speak only about the present and the future – we 'are not' monitoring and we 'will not' monitor, but not about the past. The clarification we are seeking is about the issue over all."
It is understood that the German government is not satisfied with the White House's explanation and will demand further clarification over the "completely unacceptable" allegations.
Merkel is reportedly incensed by the suggestion the NSA has been eavesdropping on her mobile phone calls for a number of years to gain diplomatic intelligence. The claim was made by Der Spiegel which has had access to documents leaked by Snowden. The news magazine is believed to have approached German intelligence agencies and government officials and asked them to verify if a mobile phone number listed on one of the US intelligence documents belonged to Merkel.
During her phone call to the US president yesterday, Merkel made it clear that, should these indications turn out to be true, she "unequivocally disapproves" of such methods and finds them "totally unacceptable," her spokesman told Der Spiegel. "This would be a grave breach of trust," he added. "Such practices must immediately be put to a stop."
The Independent says the call to Obama is "highly unusual". It illustrates "how far trust has broken down between the US and its allies" and underlines how far Washington has gone in "breaking the norms of privacy to keep tabs not just on its foes but its friends too".
The European Parliament today voted to suspend a data sharing agreement with the United States aimed at detecting terrorist fund-raising. The Independent describes the move as "the latest salvo as the EU scrambles to find an appropriate response to the hacking allegations against America's National Security Agency (NSA)". ·