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Breach of trust

The German government has received information suggesting that the American intelligence services may be monitoring the Chancellor’s mobile phone. Angela Merkel declared, "The most important thing is to establish a basis for the future."

Press Conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel "Europe and the USA are partners. But this partnership must be based on trust and respect." Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Since discussions first began over the activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA), she has made it quite clear on several occasions to the American President that, "spying on friends is completely unacceptable," said the Chancellor before the EU council meeting in Brussels. Angela Merkel expressed her dismay. "We are allies, but an alliance of this sort must be based on trust."

Angela Merkel stressed that the outrage was not primarily about her, but about all citizens in Germany and throughout the EU. It is vital to restore trust and to consider what we need, what sort of data privacy agreement we need, and where we need transparency. In her capacity as Chancellor, she is responsible for getting this for all other citizens, she pointed out.

Only on Wednesday in a phone call with President Barack Obama she made clear that, should the information prove true, she unequivocally disapproves of such practices and views them as totally unacceptable.

Germany and France trailblazers

Speaking late on Thursday evening in Brussels, the Chancellor reported that there had been a very comprehensive, excellent discussion among the European heads of state and government on these developments. Angela Merkel underlined the fact that, "Europe and the USA are partners, but this partnership must be based on trust and respect."

By the end of the year a cooperation framework is to be hammered out between the US, German and French intelligence services. Germany and France have taken the initiative. Now a joint communication line has been agreed for all 28 EU member states.

Government communications are secure

Like her Cabinet colleagues Chancellor Angela Merkel often uses a mobile phone. She uses different mobiles for different purposes; one phone is reserved for her work as Chairwoman of the CDU. For all important communication in her capacity as head of government, secure landlines exist, as do secure mobiles fitted with an encryption chip which she can use when she is on the road.
It is perhaps "not entirely coincidental that mobile phones not fitted with an encryption chip are monitored rather than those fitted with such chips," stressed Angela Merkel, speaking in Brussels. She underlined the fact that, "All communication relevant for matters of state is conducted using different mobile phones."

She has not changed her communication habits, she declared, because, "of the consistency of what I say. I believe that whoever speaks to me will basically hear the same thing."

For a full and swift investigation

Ronald Pofalla, Head of the Federal Chancellery, reported on Thursday after a special meeting of the parliamentary control committee responsible for matters pertaining to intelligence services. He stressed that, "We have used all options open to us at political level and in terms of the work of the services, from the outset, to clarify matters."

In summer a number of talks were held in the USA. The Federal Interior Minister and the heads of Germany’s intelligence agencies met their opposite numbers in the USA to request information.

With respect to these new developments, Ronald Pofalla said, "This would be an entirely new ball game and would throw a completely different light on all statements made by the NSA in recent weeks and months." For this reason he urged a full and swift investigation of all new allegations.

Deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter added on Friday that Ronald Pofalla, Gerhard Schindler, President of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Germany’s foreign intelligence service) and Hans-Georg Maaßen, President of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (the domestic intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany) will soon be returning to the USA, where they will use meetings at the White House and with the NSA to push ahead with investigations of the most recent claims and allegations.

Dealing with concerns

On Thursday Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned John B. Emerson, the US Ambassador, to the Federal Foreign Office. He reported that he had made "the incomprehension of the German government unmistakably clear" with respect to the most recent monitoring allegations.

"We find it totally unacceptable to monitor close partners. We are absolutely astounded. It is simply not done," said Guido Westerwelle after the meeting with the Ambassador. If you trust one another you don’t spy on each other. "Doing so regardless puts pressure on the friendship. "

In the name of the German government the Federal Foreign Minister declared, "We now expect the activities in question to be subjected to a full and frank investigation at long last. It is time for all cards to be put on the table."

Friday, 25. October 2013

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