Data suggests spying on Merkel began in ’02

The database entry,according to Der Spiegel and outside experts,seemed to indicate that the request to monitor her cellphone began in 2002.

Written by New York Times | Published: October 29, 2013 2:08 am


BERLIN,October 28

New details about the monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone by the National Security Agency further stoked the German government’s anger on Sunday and raised two questions: Why did the United States target her as early as 2002,and why did it take five years for the Obama administration to put a halt to the surveillance?

The latest round of recriminations came after Der Spiegel,the German news magazine,published details from what it described as an entry from an NSA database,apparently from the trove of documents downloaded by Edward Snowden,the former NSA contractor who is now in temporary asylum in Moscow.

The database entry,according to Der Spiegel and outside experts,seemed to indicate that the request to monitor her cellphone began in 2002. But the document refers to her as “chancellor”,a position she has held only since late 2005. That seems to suggest the database entry had been updated.

The authenticity of the document could not be independently confirmed. But German intelligence services believe it to be real,and in conversations between Susan E Rice,the national security adviser,and her German counterpart,Rice made no effort to question the evidence,even while declining to confirm that Merkel’s cellphone was ever monitored,according to both American and German officials.

Der Spiegel also reported that the monitoring operation was run from the US Embassy in the heart of Berlin,right by the Brandenburg Gate where President Obama spoke during a visit here last June.

The administration has seemed uncertain about how to handle the reports concerning Merkel,who has enjoyed a close rapport with Obama and has provided critical intelligence on al-Qaeda and Iran’s nuclear programme.

Last week,the White House stuck to carefully scripted talking points,saying Merkel was not currently being monitored and would not be in the future,but refused to say anything about the past.

That changed on Sunday,when the NSA issued a statement to deny another German news media report,published in Bild am Sonntag,that said Obama had been briefed on the surveillance of Merkel in 2010 by Gen. Keith Alexander,head of the NSA and US Cyber Command. The report contradicted assurances given privately to the German authorities by Rice that Obama was unaware of any such operation.

The NSA statement said “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.”

Spain calls in US envoy over spying reports



The American ambassador James Costos was summoned by the Spanish government on Monday to address allegations that the National Security Agency collected data on millions of telephone calls in Spain.

Adding to a worldwide scandal that includes France,Germany and Mexico,Spanish media reported Monday that the agency recently collected data on 60 million telephone calls in Spain. El Mundo and El País,two Spanish newspapers,based their reporting on documents seen by Glenn Greenwald,an American journalist,and provided to him by Edward Snowden.

According to the Spanish newspapers,the NSA gathered data on phone numbers and locations but did not monitor the contents of the calls. The data covered information relating to about 60 million Spanish phone calls and was collected between December and early January.

The scandal,which has strained relations between Washington and some of its most important allies,has recently focussed on whether the NSA targeted the cellphone of German chancellor Angela Merkel. The Spanish government has so far refused to discuss whether it had evidence that Washington had spied on Spanish government officials.

“Spying activities aren’t proper among partner countries and allies,” Mariano Rajoy,Spain’s prime minister,said at a news conference last week in Brussels.

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