Merkel to Obama: Are you tapping my phone?

Summary:In the wake of the NSA leaks, the German chancellor has sought assurances that US secret services have not been listening to her phone calls

In Germany, where in the aftermath of the Snowden NSA leaks , paranoia about US surveillance practices has riled the country's political fringes , the fear has now percolated all the way to the top.

On Wednesday, chancellor Angela Merkel made a call to US president Barack Obama, to be assured that American secret services were, in fact, not monitoring her mobile phone.

According to a statement from Merkel's office, Germany's federal government has "received information that that the chancellor's mobile phone may be monitored by American services". Where the information came from, and exactly what it said, remain unclear.

However, during the phone call, Merkel said that if the information does prove to be accurate, it would be "completely unacceptable". She also asked Obama for more information about the overall scope of American monitoring practices in the country.

Merkel's position reflects a shift away from the normally friendly relationship between the two countries.

According to a statement from the White House, during the phone call Obama assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of chancellor Merkel. Notably, the statement did not say whether the Chancellor's phone had ever been monitored in the past.

High-level talks on the matter, involving US ambassador John Emerson and German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, are taking place in Berlin this week.

'Told you so!'

Meanwhile, Germany's left-leaning political parties, which had unsuccessfully attempted to make NSA surveillance an issue in the recent federal elections, had an "I told you so" moment.

"Apparently the dismay of the Chancellor is a much greater motivator…than the breach of the rights of millions of citizens in this country," said Catherine Nocuń, the Pirate Party's political director.

Likewise, Twitter was aflame with umbrage from some German citizens and politicians, many using the hashtag #MerkelPhone. One user asked, "who has not been listened to?" And to that, the Greens' party chairwoman Renate Künast tweeted: "The answer is: nobody."

Image: CDU / Dominik Butzmann

Further reading

Topics: Privacy, EU, Government


From the day he brought home a modem and dialed in to a local BBS in 1991, Michael has been obsessed with technology and how it enables collaboration. He has a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has worked in and around the technology start-up scenes in San Francisco and Berlin.

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