German Minister Says Confidence in US Shaken; Spain Also Reports Massive Phone Spying

German Minister Says Confidence in US Shaken; Spain Also Reports Massive Phone Spying

The German interior minister has said that confidence in the U.S. has been shaken following allegations that the government monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, while Spain became the latest country to report massive U.S. National Security Agency spying of its citizens.

"If the Americans intercepted cell phones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich shared with the local Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"The confidence in our ally, (the) USA, is shaken," Friedrich added.

The NSA has denied that President Barack Obama knew about the alleged spying on Merkel's phone, after the German Chancellor personally called the U.S. president asking for an explanation.

"General Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel. News reports claiming otherwise are not true," the NSA said in a statement Sunday.

Obama tried to assure Merkel over the phone last week that the U.S. was not monitoring her conversations, though German officials said an investigation into the tapping reports is being launched.

"She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally," a spokesperson for Merkel said.

"Between close friends and partners, as Germany and the U.S. have been for decades, there should not be such monitoring of the communications of a government leader. This would be a grave breach of trust. Such practices should be immediately stopped."

Germany is sending senior intelligence officials to Washington to discuss the incident, CNN reported. NSA spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden has added that "As a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."

Several other European nations have also complained that the NSA is monitoring millions of their citizens. French newspaper reports earlier in October claimed that the U.S. collected more than 70 million recorded phone calls in France in a 30-day period, something with U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper has denied.

"Why are these practices, as they're reported - which remains to be clarified - unacceptable? First because they are taking place between partners, between allies, and then because they clearly are an affront to private life," said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a French government spokeswoman.

And on Monday, Spanish newspapers said that documents exposed by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that the NSA tracked over 60 million phone calls in the space of a month. El Mundo claimed that the agency did not investigate the contents of the calls, but their duration and where they took place.

Spain's government has said it was not aware that such spying was taking place on its citizens, Reuters reported, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy saying his administration is looking into the information.

"We'll see once we have more information if we decide to join with what France and Germany have done," Rajoy said on Friday, referring to a "no-spy" agreement France and Germany have proposed.

"But these aren't decisions which correspond to the European Union but questions related to national security and exclusive responsibility of member states. France and Germany have decided to do one thing and the rest of us may decide to do the same, or something else."


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