There is absolutely no question: the National Security Agency spied on the phone calls of not only German Chancellor Angela Merkel but also officials in her office. The spying was ordered as early as 2002, when Gerhard Schröder was still Chancellor, according to new information published by WikiLeaks.
Officials in the German chancellor’s office were spied upon for political espionage.
Intercept summaries show the NSA spied on Merkel in February 2009, as she questioned how the US Federal Reserve was reacting to the global financial crisis. It was just over a month until the G20 Summit in London.
A conversation between Merkel and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Prince Shaykh Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan was intercepted. It involved the Iranian people’s views toward the United States.
In 2011, the NSA spied on Merkel’s discussion with two advisers about the European Stability Facility (EFSF), which was a solution developed by the European Union to provide assistance to countries in the eurozone struggling with debt.
On June 12, German prosecutors closed an investigation into the NSA’s spying on Merkel’s cellphone, which was spurred by disclosures made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Prosecutors claimed the documents from Snowden did not contain “evidence of surveillance of the cellphone used by the chancellor” that would be “solid enough for the court.”
“There is now proof enough of NSA surveillance on German soil,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange declared. “It is time to reopen the investigation and for the NSA to stop engaging in its illegal activities against Germany.”
WikiLeaks additionally points out that the list includes “targets at Division 6,” which are responsible for the “coordination of the intelligence service.”
Previously, WikiLeaks published a list of phone numbers of German government officials and intercepted conversation summaries. That list did not include phone numbers specifically used by the German chancellor’s administration.
The US government faced a bit of an international scandal over spying on German officials, particularly Merkel’s cellphone, in 2013.
German intelligence uncovered a spy providing documents to the CIA on a special parliamentary committee investigating the extent of NSA surveillance against Germany. The CIA chief in Germany was expelled. Germany sought a “no spying agreement” but then-NSA Director Keith Alexander and CIA Director John Brennan would not agree to a meaningful agreement to not spy on Germany. Officials did not want to establish any formal “no spying agreement” that would set a precedent spy agencies would regret later.
This information from WikiLeaks shows espionage goes all the way back to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and it has nothing to do with protecting national security. It is economic and political espionage, and much greater than previously confirmed.
These revelations come days after it was revealed that Der Spiegel was spied on by US intelligence, and the CIA intervened to stop German officials from sharing information with journalists with the media organization.
“Obama administration sources with knowledge of the operation said that it was justified by American security interests,” according to Der Spiegel. “The sources said US intelligence services had determined the existence of intensive contacts between SPIEGEL reporters and the German government and decided to intervene because those communications were viewed as damaging to the United States’ interests.
“The fact that the CIA and NSA were prepared to reveal an ongoing surveillance operation to the Chancellery underlines the importance they attached to the leaks, say sources in Washington. The NSA, the sources say, were aware that the German government would know from then on that the US was spying in Berlin.”
This attack on press freedom couple with further revelations of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel will only renew outrage against the US for espionage and mass surveillance run amok.