Whats the Story? Chancellor Merkel Is Informed That US Is Monitoring Her Phone

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

Merkel Podium 2

The latest US spying scandal went global on Wednesday when Der Spiegel reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel received intelligence that the United States had been spying on her phone calls.  This wasn’t the first spying allegation made between the US and Germany in recent months, but the new details made the issue a bit more personal for Merkel.

There is a lot of information on this story being released in a short period of time, and we want to be able to make the situation more clear for our readers.  Below you will find a timeline of events with links to the stories and updates as they happen.  As more information comes up, we will update this story stream.  The most recent updates are at the top…


Update 9:

Bild Reveals Obama Knew Of Wiretapping Back In 2010

Merkel wiretap Bild

OCT 27 — President Barack Obama may have reassured Chancellor Angela Merkel that if he had known about the wiretapping of her cellphone he would’ve put an end to it, but a new report released by Bild on Sunday contradicts Obama’s claim.

The German paper claims to have information that Barack Obama was made aware of the wiretapping on Merkel’s phone back in 2010 and approved the continuation of the spying.  Their source, a “U.S. intelligence worker involved in the NSA operation against Merkel”, stated that NSA chief General Keith Alexander told the president about the monitoring in person in 2010.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines denied the claim in an email statement saying “(General) Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel… News reports claiming otherwise are not true.”

Read the full report by the Reuters…


Update 8:

Merkel’s Phone Appears To Have Been Tracked By NSA Since 2002

OCT 26 — Der Spiegel released their latest report on the Merkel phone bugging scandal on Saturday detailing that the NSA has been monitoring her phone since 2002.  The NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) apparently had Merkel listed as “GE Chancellor Merkel”, three years before holding the title, and she was still on the list as of this summer.

More details have also leaked from the discussion Merkel had with President Barack Obama, including the president stating that he would have stopped the wiretapping if he had known it was going on.

Read the full report by the Reuters…



Update 7:

German Intelligence Officers To Travel To The Unites States

OCT 25 — Germany will now be sending senior intelligence officers to the United States to meet directly with officials at the White House and NSA.  While the exact timing of the trip hasn’t been disclosed, the Associated Press reported that the “German spy chiefs will travel to Washington shortly.”

A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council issued a statement on Friday saying “German officials plan to travel to Washington in coming weeks and the U.S. government looks forward to meeting with them… We expect a range of meetings with relevant officials across the U.S. interagency, but we do not have specific meetings to announce at this point.”

As the EU summit in Brussels wrapped up on Friday, European leaders still showed an interest in keeping their strong partnerships with the United States, despite the recent revelations.  Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite stated “The main thing is that we look to the future. The trans-Atlantic partnership was and is important.”

Read the full report by the Associated Press…



Update 6:

Merkel’s Communications May Have Been Spied On By US Embassy in Berlin

OCT 25 — Germany’s Seuddeutsche Zeitung has now claimed to have received information that the alleged surveillance on Angela Merkel’s phone calls was being conducted at the US Embassy in Berlin, roughly a mile away from her office. It is being claimed that the surveillance was done by the Special Collection Service (SCS), a joint venture between the NSA and CIA.

Part of this information comes from recently leaked documents from the US Whistleblower Edward Snowden, detailing the questionable activities carried out by the SCS. With the close proximity of the US embassy in Berlin and Merkel’s office, it is believed that surveillance would have been quite easy.

Read the full German-language report by Seuddeutsche Zeitung…



Update 5:

Germany and France Demand ‘No-Spy’ Agreement With US By End of Year

Merkel EU Summit

OCT 24 — As the first day of the EU Summit wrapped up in Brussels, it was revealed that both Germany and France are seeking a ‘no-spy’ agreement with the United States, and that it should be agreed upon by the end of 2013.  Merkel had pushed for a similar agreement back in June when President Barack Obama visited Berlin, but nothing has happened since then.  With the latest phone wiretapping allegations, Merkel is more determined to get an agreement in place, and has the full support of the EU’s 28 leaders for the plan.

According to Merkel, this plan created by Germany and France should be joined with other EU countries.  She stated, “That means a framework for cooperation between the relevant (intelligence) services. Germany and France have taken the initiative and other member states will join.”

Read the full report by Reuters…



Update 4:

Merkel Addressed The Issue During Speech At EU Summit in Brussels

OCT 24 — On the first day of the two-day European Union summit in Brussels, Angela Merkel spoke on the phone tapping situation publicly for the first time.  Merkel told reporters, “It’s not just about me but about every German citizen. We need to have trust in our allies and partners, and this trust must now be established once again.”  She went on to say, “I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable against anyone, and that goes for every citizen in Germany.”

It is clear from her first public statement to the press that the situation is far from being over.

Read the full report by Reuters…



Update 3:

US Ambassador Summoned By Germany To Explain Phone Tapping Allegations

Emerson meets Westerwelle

OCT 24 — Despite the White House and President Obama denying the allegations, US Ambassador John B. Emerson was summoned to meet with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin on Thursday.  The exact details of the conversation have not been disclosed, but this type of meeting is not typical. Fox News was told by German officials that past issues between the United States and Germany have been handled at a lower level with diplomats instead of the foreign minister.  An official stated that this kind of meeting is typically only seen in serious situations, such as in Syria and Iran.

Read the full report by Fox News…



Update 2:

White House Spokesman Jay Carney Makes Statement Denying Allegations

OCT 23 — Once the news of the spying allegations broke, White House spokesman Jay Carney briefed the press on the situation.  Carney stated that the “president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.” This comment did little to put out the fire however.  While the official White House response denies currently spying on Merkel’s phone calls, there was no definitive statement on whether her phone was previously monitored by US intelligence.

In the briefing, Carney went on to say the “United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges.”

Read the full report by CBS News…



Update 1:

Der Spiegel Breaks Story on US Wiretapping Merkel’s Cellphone

Merkel Phone Spy Spiegel

OCT 23 — On Wednesday, October 23, Der Spiegel published a news story indicating that German Chancellor Angela Merkel received intelligence, based on information uncovered by news agency, that her cell phone had been monitored by US intelligence.  It was reported that Merkel phoned President Barack Obama to discuss the allegations, demanding answers.

Details of the phone conversation were provided to Der Spiegel, and Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert stated that part of the conversation included Merkel expressing her expectation that “US authorities would provide an explanation about the possible extent of such surveillance practices, and thus answer questions that the German government already posed months ago.”

Read the full English-language report by Der Spiegel…




Photos: Medienmagazin pro [Flickr]usbotschaftberlin [Flickr]European Council [Flickr]

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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