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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Germany Summons U.S. Envoy Amid Rage Over Merkel Spy Claims

Germany Summons U.S. Envoy Amid Rage Over Merkel Spy Claims

Berlin (AFP) – Germany summoned the U.S. ambassador Thursday amid outrage over suspicions that Washington tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, as she faced allegations she had naively played down the NSA spying scandal.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will meet U.S. envoy John B. Emerson later Thursday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman told AFP, adding: “The position of the German government will be presented clearly.”

The ministry could not confirm that the step was unprecedented in U.S.-German post-war relations but it was seen as a highly unusual move between the close allies.

Merkel was to discuss strategies for confronting covert U.S. surveillance in Europe with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday on the margins of an EU summit, a French diplomatic source said.

The German leader called U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday demanding answers after learning the National Security Agency may have monitored her phone, warning this would be “breach of trust” between international partners.

A White House spokesman said it is not now listening in on Merkel, but did not deny the possibility her communications may have been intercepted in the past.

The allegations sparked anger in Germany and Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement that she had “made clear that she unequivocally disapproves of such practices, should they be confirmed, and regards them as completely unacceptable”.

Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel, citing government sources, reported that the alleged tapping targeted not Merkel’s official mobile phone but a separate device she uses for conducting business for her Christian Democratic Union party.

German and U.S. intelligence agencies cooperate closely on counter-terrorism efforts and other matters related to espionage.

But the latest revelations threaten the personal trust and close cooperation between Obama and Merkel, which saw the U.S. leader pay a long-awaited visit to Berlin earlier this year.

As the NSA scandal raged in Germany during the campaign for the September election, Obama indicated in July that his personal ties with Merkel meant he had no need to spy on her.

“If I want to know what Chancellor Merkel is thinking, I will call Chancellor Merkel,” he said then.

Merkel grew up in communist East Germany, where state spying on citizens was rampant. Germans also carry the trauma of mass abuses by the security services under the Nazi regime.

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  • Mortalc01l

    This is unconscionable.!!! We have lost all pretense of having “privacy” in today’s World. We must assume that everything we do online and every conversation we have by phone has a high probability of being intercepted by at least ONE of our World’s supposed Governments or “agencies”.

    We are at a stage where we as citizens of the World are presumed guilty of everything; no trial needed, no subpoena, no process of law… GUILTY of whatever they decide we are. They can always find something to justify their snooping and if they can’t find a justification, they will invent it.

    I am in the Internet security business; my company makes a product that at least prevents anyone other than me accessing specific data, that I store on an encrypted Cloud Drive…. The worse these intrusions into our private lives becomes, the more convinced I become that we as a Company HAVE to keep providing our product to prevent these CRIMINAL, unregulated searches of our personal data.

    What’s going to happen when we all have our DNA data available to us? Will we own it, or will various Governments and Corporations data mine it and basically steal our very identity? What will they do with that DNA information? I personally will continue to use my encrypted Cloud Drive to protect what I consider to be my inalienable rights to privacy and I will store whatever I decide is private, so it’s hidden from Governments, agencies around the World and criminals..

    Speaking of criminals and hackers, is there REALLY any difference at the moment between the criminals who try to steal our data, money and identities and the World’s Governments and spy agencies? At this point, I suspect the run of the mill criminals are LESS dangerous to our liberties than the Governments of the increasingly inaptly named “free World”.