Merkel called Obama on Wednesday to ask for clarification on the extent of U.S. surveillance in her country after getting a report indicating that American intelligence might be accessing her mobile phone communications. President Obama had to assure German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the U.S. wasn't tapping her phone.
That report's origins haven't been revealed, but German paper Der Spiegel has indicated that it was based on its research into U.S. spying. A spokesperson for Merkel told the AP that the Chancellor told the president "she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed ... as completely unacceptable." Obama responded with a partial denial of that report, telling Merkel that "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel." A statement from the White House added:
"The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges. As the President has said, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share."
Der Spiegel notes that a White House spokesperson "did not wish to specify" whether the U.S. was also denying that it had monitored Merkel's communications in the past.
This hasn't been the best week for the U.S.'s secretive intelligence programs. Earlier this week, Der Spiegel published a report based on documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that, among other things, revealed the U.S.'s surveillance of the Mexican president's email account. And on Wednesday, the U.S. partially denied a Le Monde report, also based on Snowden docs, on the extent of the NSA's data collection targeting French citizens.