Merkel's office invites US envoy to discuss latest spy claim

AP News
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Posted: Jul 02, 2015 12:45 PM
Merkel's office invites US envoy to discuss latest spy claim

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff asked the U.S. ambassador for a meeting Thursday to discuss the latest reports of alleged American spying on Germany and told him that German law must be adhered to, the German government said.

Chief of staff Peter Altmaier invited Ambassador John B. Emerson to the chancellery, the government said, a move that formally fell short of summoning the ambassador.

It came after WikiLeaks published a list of German phone numbers on Wednesday that it claimed showed the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on senior German officials beyond Merkel.

Altmaier "made clear that abiding by German law is indispensable" and that any violations will be pursued, Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement.

"Beyond that, the cooperation between German and American intelligence services that is essential for the security of our citizens is burdened by such repeated incidents," Seibert added. He said that the latest report is being evaluated by German authorities.

Reports two years ago that the chancellor's cellphone was monitored by the NSA caused diplomatic friction between Berlin and Washington, prompting President Barack Obama to pledge he wouldn't allow America's massive communications surveillance capability to damage relations with close allies.

The latest list, which was partially redacted, reportedly contained phone and fax numbers used by the German economy and finance ministries, among others.

WikiLeaks also published two documents it claimed were summaries of conversations intercepted, one involving Merkel and a second involving a senior aide, concerning the Greek debt crisis. Some in Germany have taken the latest documents as proof that the U.S. is also conducting economic espionage of allied nations.

Speaking to German daily Bild, the country's finance minister chided the U.S. for its apparent eavesdropping practices, but said his ministry uses secure means of communication for sensitive conversations.

Wolfgang Schauble was quoted as saying Thursday that he considered the U.S. and its intelligence agencies to be less of a problem than those of other major powers.