Germany Calls U.S. on Merkel Phone Snooping

U.S. ambassador questioned after Merkel calls Obama about NSA spying.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at a religious service at St. Hedwig Cathedral prior to the first session of the new Bundestag following recent nationwide elections on Oct. 22, 2013, in Berlin, Germany.
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Germany joined a chorus of other governments scrutinizing the National Security Agency (NSA) by summoning the U.S. ambassador to a meeting on Thursday in Berlin to explain reports that the agency has monitored the phone calls of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.

German authorities summoned John Emerson, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to a meeting to explain the alleged surveillance, according to the Guardian.

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Reports that the NSA has spied on Merkel's mobile phone calls for years were first published on Wednesday by German news agency Der Spiegel, which led the German government to investigate.

Merkel called President Barack Obama personally on Wednesday to confront him about whether her mobile phone was tapped. During the call Merkel told Obama "there should be no such monitoring of the communication of a head of government," according to a statement from Merkel's spokesperson published in the Washington Post.

"That would be a grave breach of trust," according to the statement from Merkel's office.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a press briefing on Wednesday that Obama assured Merkel that "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor." Carney said he did not have an answer to a press question about whether the NSA has monitored Merkel's calls in the past.

"The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges," Carney said, explaining the phone call between Merkel and Obama. "As the president has said, the U.S. is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share. Both leaders agreed to intensify further the cooperation between our intelligence services."

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If the NSA did spy on the Merkel's phone that would damage relations with the U.S., said Thomas de Maiziere, Germany's defense minister.

"We can't simply return to business as usual. There are allegations in France, too," according to comments made by Maiziere to ARD television, as cited in the Guardian.

The French government also demanded an explanation from the U.S. on Monday about how the agency reportedly collected 70.3 million phone records of French citizens, politicians and business officials during a 28-day period.

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