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German intelligence recorded Clinton, Kerry calls, German media reports

By Ralph Ellis and Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
updated 3:25 PM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
German media reports intelligence services intercepted a phone call by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
German media reports intelligence services intercepted a phone call by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • German media: German intelligence agency accidentally recorded Clinton, Kerry calls
  • German officials say they don't have widespread eavesdropping program, media sources said
  • Germany has criticized the U.S. for tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone
  • Last month, Germany threw the CIA station chief in Berlin out of the country

(CNN) -- Germany's intelligence service has intercepted phone calls by two U.S. secretaries of state, German media reports reveal.

The news comes several months after Germany complained about the United States eavesdropping on its politicians.

German intelligence service BND intercepted a phone call from then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "by chance" while Clinton was traveling on a U.S. government plane, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported. The magazine Der Spiegel said this happened in 2012.

And Der Spiegel reported BND intercepted a satellite call from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013.

According to the Sueddeutsche article, unnamed members of the German government claim that the wiretapping was accidental and not part of a widespread operation to eavesdrop on U.S. politicians. Der Spiegel said the recorded calls were deleted.

Sueddeutsche says it and German public broadcasters NDR and WDR based their reports on documents from the case of a German intelligence agent who'd given information to the CIA.

Sueddeutsche gives the man's name simply as Markus R. and said he was arrested in July after giving the CIA at least 218 classified documents.

Der Spiegel, quoting unnamed sources, also reported the Germans have spied on Turkey, a NATO member state. The magazine said it viewed documents supporting the claim from 2009.

Relations between Germany and the United States have suffered lately because of revelations about intelligence gathering.

Last month, Germany kicked out the CIA station chief in Berlin after learning that two Germans -- one working at a German intelligence agency, the other in the Ministry of Defense -- were suspected of spying for the United States.

Last year, Edward Snowden leaked information that the National Security Agency tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone. A German prosecutor has opened an investigation into the matter.

The U.S. State Department and representatives for Clinton declined to comment Sunday.

CNN Senior Political Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.

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