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 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 12:38 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
updated 12:29 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
updated 7:39 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT