With a European summit meeting presently taking place in Brussels, the hot topic of conversation has turned to American spying and the fact that President Obama has suggested that the United States may have been listening to the phone calls Angela Merkel made on her mobile phone for a four-year period ending in July.
Angela Merkel’s cell phone surveillance
While it’s difficult to imagine picking up too much hot gossip from Mrs. Merkel, there certainly would have been a number of things that the United States could have gleaned from her conversations.
The report comes from Die Welt and states that the number of the Chancellor’s old Nokia phone was listed on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Merkel used a Nokia 6210 Slide from October 2009 to July of 2013 when she switched to the more secure BlackBerry Z10. Really? A BlackBerry? To take a step back, German intelligence is not saying the United States was listening to her calls, only that the phone was susceptible to surveillance. Either way, the issue is sure to overshadow the European summit.
U.S. free trade talks in danger
Sigmar Gabriel, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, said the revelations threatened EU-U.S. free trade talks.
“It is hard for me to imagine negotiating a free trade deal with the United States to the end if the freedoms and personal rights of citizens in Europe are endangered,” said Mr. Gabriel, whose party is likely to join a coalition soon with Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
“The Americans are and remain our best friends but this is a no go,” Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German television. He has long maintained that his phone was being listened in on, “but not by the Americans.”
On the plus side, the bugging should bring back nostalgic memories for Merkel, as she grew up in former East Germany.
Merkel demanding explanation from Obama
Merkel called Obama yesterday demanding an explanation once the report was made public. Presumably, someone at the NSA got a big laugh out of the conversation, though that is pure speculation.
She demanded “an immediate and comprehensive explanation” from Washington, according to Merkel’s spokesperson. “Among close friends and partners, as the Federal Republic of Germany and the U.S. have been for decades, there should be no such monitoring of the communications of a head of government,” the statement added, referencing the conversation between Merkel and Obama. “This would be a serious breach of trust.” “Such practices must be stopped immediately,” the German chancellor told President Obama, the statement said.
Not to be left out, France will push forward a conversation on U.S. spying during the summit. France called the U.S. Ambassador in earlier this week to discuss U.S. telephone surveillance in the land of cheese.