Trans-Atlantic tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone would have breached the “rules of the game” among associated intelligence operators, a former head of Germany’s BND spy agency said.
“It’s fundamental philosophy not to spy on partners like this, you just don’t,” said Hans-Georg Wieck in a telephone interview from his Berlin home. “Break that rule and you better be ready for the political consequences.”
Within 24 hours, publication of a report by Der Spiegel on the monitoring of Merkel’s phone prompted a phone call between the chancellor and President Barack Obama, the summoning of the U.S. ambassador to the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin and a parliamentary inquiry. Merkel’s government said it’s seeking “an immediate and comprehensive explanation” from the U.S.
The report threatens to engulf a European summit today attended by Merkel and 27 other leaders. Entering the summit building in Brussels this afternoon, Merkel told reporters that “spying among friends is unacceptable” and that trust with the U.S. has to be re-established.
Germany and the U.S. pledged a “no-spying” agreement that followed a first wave of revelations this summer by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The U.S. “deceived” Germany in accounting for the activities of the National Security Agency, the chairman of the German parliament’s oversight committee Thomas Oppermann told reporters today.
The fallout from the allegations is taking an unanticipated course that’s shaken confidence in the credibility of the U.S. on the no-spying pledge, said Wieck, who was for five years until 1990 president of the Pullach, Bavaria-based Bundesnachrichtendienst.
“I can only repeat the maxim,” he said. “Don’t spy on your ally.”