Berlin [Germany]: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday testified at the final hearing of the parliamentary committee examining alleged U.S. surveillance in Germany and the activities of German intelligence.
According to Deutsche Welle (DW), Merkel in her statement said that she had complained to the then U.S. President Barack Obama about Washington spying in 2013 and insisted that the U.S. intelligence services operating on German soil follow German law.
“We’re not in the Cold War any more,” Merkel quoted herself as telling Obama.
One main thread of queries was alleged National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping on Merkel’s cell phone to which she said that it was never proven that the American intelligence service had listened in on her conversations.
She added that she had received assurances from Obama that her phone was not tapped and wouldn’t be in the future.
When asked why she didn’t have her cell phone forensically examined, she said that she didn’t want to give additional insights into her communication habits. She said it was easier for her just to procure a new device.
Merkel’s testimony was particularly anticipated not just because of her position as chancellor, but because of her high-profile statement in 2013: “Spying among friends – that simply isn’t done.”
She said that her assertion that “friends” should spy on one another was a statement of political belief and not an assertion that Germany didn’t run surveillance on allies.
When pressed why it took until March 2015 for the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) to discontinue using certain controversial selectors, the chancellor blamed “technical and organizational deficits.”
Merkel denied any deeper knowledge of German surveillance practices before 2015 and any responsibility for mistakes made by her subordinates.
Konstantin von Notz of the Greens suggested that talk of a no-spy agreement between Germany and the U..S in 2013, which ultimately yielded no results, was a strategy to blunt the political damage of the NSA affair. However, Merkel denied that this was the case.
Merkel’s testimony ends the main investigative work of the committee, which was formed in March 2014. It now has until the second half of June to file its final report on the NSA-BND spying affair. (ANI)