‘Spying on Merkel on since 2002, Obama let it continue’

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Berlin, October 27:  The U.S. has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone for more than 10 years, said a magazine report.

The German publication Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday claimed to have seen secret papers from the National Security Agency (NSA) which show Ms. Merkel’s phone number on a list dating from 2002 – before she became chancellor of Germany, reports BBC.

The publication said Ms. Merkel’s mobile had been listed by the NSA’s Special Collection Service marked as ”GE Chancellor Merkel” – and was still on the list weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama visited Germany in June.

Obama approved spying

President Barack Obama knew about the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel for some years and he also personally approved it, according to a report published on Sunday.

Mr. Obama was informed about the NSA’s tapping of Ms. Merkel’s mobile phone already in 2010 by its director Keith Alexander.

The President “not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue,” Bild am Sonntag newspaper said quoting a high-ranking NSA official.

The White House later ordered the spy agency to prepare a detailed dossier on the chancellor.

President Obama did not trust Ms. Merkel and wanted to know everything about her, Bild said quoting the official, who was not identified.

Subsequently, the NSA stepped up its surveillance of Ms. Merkel and snooped into all conversations with her mobile phone used for communicating with her party colleagues, the newspaper said.

The agency also cracked the codes of a new supposedly tap-proof mobile phone she has been using since the middle of this year, the newspaper said.

This showed that the NSA continued its spying on the chancellor until very recently, it said.

Ms. Merkel’s conversation from her office via fixed line phones, which she used to communicate with other world leaders, was secure from eavesdropping, the newspaper said.

A report on Sunday claimed that President Obama had assured chancellor Ms. Merkel during a telephone conversation last Wednesday that he was not aware of the NSA’s spying on her.

When Ms. Merkel called him to complain about the suspected surveillance by the NSA, Mr. Obama told her that he would have stopped it if he knew about it, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

Bild said Mr. Obama’s interest in information about Ms. Merkel was evident from the fact that intelligence gathered by the NSA did not go as usual to its headquarters in Fort Meade, in Maryland, but directly to the White House.

Another report in weekly news magazine Der Spiegel said NSA may also have spied on the entire government complex in Berlin from the nearby American Embassy.

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