Barack Obama has been accused of personally authorising the tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone over three years ago.
Obama reportedly made the decision after he was briefed by the National Security Agency’s director, Keith Alexander, back in 2010.
German newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, have claimed that Mrs Merkel’s phone was tapped as early as 2002, when she was just the leader of the country’s opposition party. Merkel was finally elected as Germany’s Chancellor three years later in 2005. It is believed that Obama chose to end this monitoring in June 2013, weeks before he arrived in Berlin.
Previously Obama had insisted to Merkel that he didn’t know the German leader’s phone had been tapped. Once Germany found out that Merkel’s mobile was being monitored they then asked for the U.S. ambassador to travel to Berlin for talks, an act that hasn’t been ordered since the end of the second world war.
Obama apologised to Merkel via the phone on Wednesday, after she called the President, and he was adamant that he would have stopped the bugging if he had known about it.
Bild am Sonntag reported that a “U.S. intelligence worker involved in the NSA operation against Merkel,” had informed them that Alexander told Obama in 2010. The paper added, “Obama didn’t stop the operation back then but let it continue.”
Vanne Vines, a spokeswoman for the NSA, has stated that Alexander never discussed any intelligence operation with Obama that involved Merkel.
She stated, “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. News reports claiming otherwise are not true.”
The publication stated that the NSA first decided to monitor Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, because he didn’t support George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. They then continued with the operation when Merkel took over in 2005.
In response to this revelation, Merkel has confided that she only uses one mobile phone and that any state-related calls she makes are completed via encrypted devices.
Numerous European countries have reacted furiously to the United States’ alleged eavesdropping, with Bernard Kouchner, a former French foreign minister, stating, “The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us. Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”
Do you believe that President Obama knew about the United States’ tapping of Merkel’s phone back in 2010?
[Image via The White House/Wikimedia]