BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be “a serious breach of trust” if confirmed.
For its part, the White House denied that the U.S. is listening in on Merkel’s phone calls now.
“The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
However, Carney did not specifically say that that U.S. had never monitored or obtained Merkel’s communications.
The German government said it responded after receiving “information that the chancellor’s cellphone may be monitored” by U.S. intelligence. It wouldn’t elaborate, but German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, said its research triggered the response.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement the chancellor made clear to Obama in a phone call that “she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed … as completely unacceptable.”
Carney said the U.S. is examining Germany’s concerns as part of an ongoing review of how the U.S. gathers intelligence.
The White House has cited that review in responding to similar spying concerns from France, Brazil and other countries.
U.S. allies knew that the Americans were spying on them, but they had no idea how much.
Merkel had previously raised concerns over the electronic eavesdropping issue when Obama visited Germany in June, has demanded answers from the U.S. government and backed calls for greater European data protection. Wednesday’s statement, however, was much more sharply worded and appeared to reflect frustration over the answers provided so far by the U.S. government.
Merkel called for U.S. authorities to clarify the extent of surveillance in Germany.