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 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 1:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, leaders of the most populous nations face similar challenges. Can they learn from each other?
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
The U.S. is not returning combat troops to Iraq, President Barack Obama insists.
updated 8:38 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
updated 11:08 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
updated 1:03 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Psychedelic drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to tobacco and alcohol addiction.
updated 9:42 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 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