Skip to main content

German interior minister: Confidence in U.S. is 'shaken'

From Per Nyberg, CNN
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Sun October 27, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The NSA denies claim that Obama was briefed on Merkel operation
  • Interior minister: "The confidence in our ally, (the) USA, is shaken"
  • German intelligence officials will visit Washington, officials say
  • Der Spiegel: U.S. spied on Merkel for more than 10 years, at least until June

(CNN) -- Germany's interior minister says his country's confidence in the United States is shaken, amid claims the U.S. National Security Agency monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

"If the Americans intercepted cell phones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that he wants "complete information on all accusations."

"The confidence in our ally, (the) USA, is shaken," Friedrich said, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Obama promises changes

Citing an unnamed intelligence officer, the German newspaper also reported Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama learned about the NSA operation targeting Merkel from agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander in 2010 and allowed it to continue -- a claim the NSA denied.

"Gen. 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," NSA spokeswoman Vanee' Vines told CNN.

German magazine Der Spiegel, meanwhile, reported that Obama told Merkel he would have stopped it from happening, if he had known about it.

Such reassurances appear to have done little to quell outrage from German officials over the alleged espionage, which was reported last week by Der Spiegel.

Europe falls out of love with Obama over NSA spying claims

The magazine's report, which cites a secret U.S. intelligence file, claimed Merkel's phone had been monitored for more than 10 years, stretching back before her current post.

It's the latest in a series of spying allegations that have challenged relations between the two long-time allies.

The same database indicated the United States was spying on many others in Berlin's political district, at least up to the time when Obama visited Berlin this year, Der Spiegel reported.

Now Germany is sending a group of senior intelligence officials to Washington to discuss the reports, the government's press office said last week.

Asked about these claims, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said her agency does not "comment publicly on every specific intelligence activity."

"And, as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," said Hayden, echoing comments she and others have made in recent days.

Still, it remains to be seen if citizens and leaders in Europe will accept such explanations -- and whether recent efforts by the Obama administration to address their concerns will be successful.

Merkel: Relations with U.S. 'severely shaken' over spying claims

CNN's Diana Magnay, Jim Boulden, Kevin Liptak, Chloe Sommers and Frederik Pleitgen contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
ADVERTISEMENT