EU leaders condemn US ‘spying on friends’ – Merkel and 35 leaders’ phones tapped

25 Oct 2013

EU leaders are seeking transatlantic accords on espionage practices after it emerged that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with 35 other leaders’ phones, were tapped by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

During the EU-US Summit this week, Merkel denounced the practice of “spying on friends” but did not confirm whether an apology was sought from US President Barack Obama over the revelations.

The Guardian reported this morning that the NSA monitored the calls of 35 world leaders after a US government official handed the numbers over to the agency.

A document leaked by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden alleges that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including the 35 leaders, that were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.

This week, US officials warned foreign intelligence agencies that Snowden may leak documents detailing their co-operation with the US government.

Following the revelations, it was understood that US ambassadors in France and Germany have been summoned by both organisations to explain the situation.

Both Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have called for closer co-operation among intelligence agencies in order to move beyond the present impasse.

“A good rule of contact is that you don’t bug the portable phones of people you meet regularly at international summits,” Hollande was quoted on Bloomberg as having stated earlier today.

This week, the European Parliament voted to suspend a major data-sharing agreement with the US, the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), just ahead of the EU-US Summit that is happening in Brussels today.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years