The U.S. ambassador to Germany was asked to come to the Federal Chancellery in Berlin following the latest media allegations of National Security Agency surveillance on German officials.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, invited U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson for talks in the chancellery on Thursday, Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Altmaier warned Emerson, who last year was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over spy allegations, that continued espionage revelations place a burden on U.S.-German cooperation.
“He made clear that conforming with German law is indispensable and any confirmed violations will be pursued,” Seibert said in an e-mailed statement.
The NSA may have spied on Germany’s finance, economy and agriculture ministries, possibly tapping telephone and fax machine numbers, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported, citing documents published on the WikiLeaks platform. The list of phone and fax numbers dates from 2010-2012 and indicates possible spying going back to the 1990s, including on former Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, the report said.
NSA spying allegations caused a political stir in Germany in 2013 when news magazine Der Spiegel reported that U.S. intelligence may have been monitoring Merkel’s private mobile phone for years. Merkel complained to President Barack Obama, who assured her that the U.S. was not listening to her calls.
Merkel’s efforts since then to win U.S. assurances to limit spying in Germany have gone nowhere. Her talks with U.S. officials have been hampered by reports that the country’s BND intelligence agency cooperated with the NSA to spy on European allies and companies. The spat led to the departure last year of the top U.S. intelligence officer in Berlin.
Germany’s top prosecutor dropped a probe into the alleged tapping of the chancellor’s mobile phone by U.S. spy services last month, citing a lack of evidence.