NSA has monitored German chancellor's phone call since 2002
'Spying among friends does not work,' Merkel says as Obama apologizes
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared that "spying among friends does not work." Attending the summit of European leaders in Brussels, Der Spiegel newspaper has revealed that the United States' national Security Agency has been monitoring Merkel's phone calls since 2002.
In response, President Barack Obama assured Chancellor Merkel he would have stopped it happening had he known about it.
The incident has prompted Germany to summon the U.S. ambassador this week for the first time in living memory, which proves that the incident is an unprecedented post-war diplomatic rift.
Merkel's mobile telephone had been listed by the NSA's Special Collection Service since 2002 and was still on the list weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June, according to newspaper reports.
In a service document cited by Der Spiegel, the agency said it had a "not legally registered spying branch" in the U.S. embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to "grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government."
NSA and CIA staff then tapped communication in the Berlin's government district with high-tech surveillance. Der Spiegel quoted a secret document from 2010 that such branches existed in about 80 locations around the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt. The magazine said it was not clear whether the SCS had recorded conversations or just connection data.
"We're not going to comment on the details of our diplomatic discussions," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House.
An ongoing rift over U.S. surveillance activities first emerged earlier this year after reports that Washington had bugged European Union offices and had tapped half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages.
Germany says it plans to send its intelligence chiefs to Washington in the coming days to seek answers on the spying allegations.
Germany is also working with Brazil's Dilma Rouseff on a draft United Nations General Assembly resolution to guarantee people's privacy in electronic communications.
In response, as many as 1,000 demonstrators rallied Saturday outside the U.S. Capitol against NSA spying, demanding an end to mass surveillance of individuals.
In a television interview, former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell said that Edward Snowden's leaks are "the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the U.S. intelligence community."
The most damaging leaked document, according to Morrell was the so-called Black Budget, detailing where the U.S. spends its money on intelligence efforts.
Morrell said Snowden has put Americans at greater risk "because terrorists learn from leaks and they will be more careful," and the country will not get the intelligence it would have gotten otherwise.
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