American intelligence services had not only spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but also monitored her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder after he opposed the US plans to go to war in Iraq, suggest media reports.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the TV channel NDR reported that their investigations based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden showed that Social Democrat (SPD) Chancellor Schroeder was spied on by the NSA at least from 2002.
Schroeder, who headed a coalition government with the Green party between 2001 and 2005, was listed under the number 388 in the “National Sigint Requirements List” of the NSA. The list contained the names of persons and institutions to be monitored by the spy agency, the reports said.
Since a document leaked by Snowden in October revealed that the NSA had eavesdropped on Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone for several years, there have been speculations that she may not be the only German leader spied on by the NSA. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung and NDR said their investigations showed that Schroeder’s phone may have been bugged by the NSA from 2002 and Merkel was spied on by the agency since she began her first term in 2005.
US President Barack Obama assured the German chancellor recently that spying on her would not happen again during his presidency and he would not allow US intelligence operations to damage the close friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Schroeder’s strong opposition to the Iraq war in 2003 could have made him a target of surveillance by the US intelligence agencies as the US feared a split in the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO), the reports said.
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Commenting on the revelations, Schroeder said in a statement that when he was in power he “would not have thought about being monitored by American intelligence agencies; now I will not be surprised,” according to the reports. Green party parliament member Hans-Christian Stroebele, the only western politician to meet Snowden in Moscow since he was granted a one-year asylum by Russia in August, said he firmly believed that Schroeder and possibly other members of the SPD-Green government were spied on by the NSA.
In a TV interview, Stroebele demanded a thorough clarification of the NSA surveillance operations at least since 2002 and an investigation by a German parliamentary inquiry committee, which he expects will be constituted shortly.