BERLIN - German daily Bild am Sonntag claims that US secret service informed President Obama in 2010 about secret surveillance targeting Chancellor Merkel and received permission for continuation of this operation.
BERLIN – German daily Bild am Sonntag claims that US secret service informed President Obama in 2010 about secret surveillance targeting Chancellor Merkel and received permission for continuation of this operation.
A bitter row between Germany and the US over secret surveillance targeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone is growing with new revelations.
Germany’s Bild am Sonntag claimed on Sunday that US President Barack Obama knew about the surveillance for at least three years and he authorized the continuation of this secret operation.
According to a US official who spoke to the Bild am Sonntag on condition of anonymity, former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) Keith Alexander had personally informed President Obama in 2010, about the secret surveillance targeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
“At that time Obama did not stop the operation but let it continue,” a US intelligent official told Bild am Sonntag. The official also claimed that the White House had demanded a comprehensive file from the NSA on Angela Merkel due to lack of confidence towards her.
The recent story of Bild am Sonntag has thrown doubt over earlier statements by the US officials claiming that NSA might have tapped Merkel’s phone without the knowledge of President Obama.
Merkel called Obama on Wednesday and demanded immediate clarification for the reports that has claimed years long secret monitoring of her mobile phone by the NSA.
A statement by the White House underlined that the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel,” but did not specify whether this statement applied to the past.
– ‘Surveillance started in 2002’
According to German press reports, secret surveillance of German leaders started in 2002, during the presidency of George Bush and Americans had monitored Gerhard Schroeder, the former chancellor who opposed giving support for the US military intervention in Iraq.
German authorities believe that the NSA’s suspected surveillance operation had been controlled from a special facility at the US embassy building in Berlin which is only a kilometer away from the Chancellery.
NSA is believed to have around 18 agents stationed in Berlin.
NSA’s suspected monitoring of Merkel’s mobile phone was uncovered last week by the German news magazine Der Spiegel. An examination of the top secret files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the German chancellor was on a list of people targeted by NSA.
According to German daily Die Welt, Merkel used this mobile phone from October 2009 to June this year. She often used this for her conversations with party officials, German newspapers reported.
Both telephone conversations and SMS communication is thought to have been monitored, but there has been no concrete evidence as it is often the case with such surveillance operations, sources told the press.
A high level German delegation is set to visit Washington next week to discuss the reports of secret NSA surveillance in Germany. Berlin demands a comprehensive investigation and an immediate stop to such operations.