Skip to main content

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.

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