'U.S. Spying Europe' Saga Continues

The U.S. President Barack Obama was personally informed of phone tapping against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which may have begun as early as 2002, according to German media.

As the damaging espionage scandal widened, Bild am Sonntage newspaper quoted U.S. intelligence forces as saying that National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander had briefed Obama on the operation against Merkel in 2010.
'Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue,' the newspaper quoted a high-ranking NSA official as saying.

News weekly Der Spiegel reported that leaked NSA documents showed that Merkel's phone had appeared on a list of spying targets since 2002, and was still under surveillance weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.

As a sense of betrayal spread through many world capitals allegedly targeted by the NSA, European leaders are calling for a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering that would maintain an essential alliance while keeping the fight against terrorism on track.

Meanwhile several thousand protesters gathered in Washington Saturday to push for new U.S. legislation to curb the NSA's activities.

Merkel confronted Obama with the snooping allegations in a phone call on Wednesday saying that such spying would be a 'breach of trust' between international partners.

The suspicion had prompted Berlin to summon the U.S. ambassador.

The Frankfutrer Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung reported without citing its sources that Obama had told Merkel during their call that he had been unaware of any spying against her.

Der Spiegel said he told her that if he had been informed of the operation he would have stopped it at once.

The White House has said it is not monitoring Merkel's phone calls and will not do that in the future, but it has refused to say whether it did it previously.

Bild am Sonntag said that Obama wanted to be informed in detail about Merkel, who has played a decisive role in the eurozone debt crisis and is widely seen as Europe's most powerful leader.

If the spying against Merkel began in 2002, it would mean the United States under President George W. Bush targeted her while she was still the country's chief oposition leader, three years before she became chancellor.

The scandal derived from documents acquired from U.S. fugitive defence contractor Edward Snowden by Spiegiel.


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