The National Security Agency has reportedly been surveilling senior German officials after it was ordered by President Obama to cease spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel. The report comes from German paper Bild am Sonntag, which claims its informant is a “high-ranking NSA employee in Germany,” as described by UK Reuters, which translated the original report.
Among the 320 target individuals are Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. “We have had the order not to miss out on any information now that we are no longer able to monitor the chancellor’s communication directly,” one NSA employee is reported to have said.
An interior ministry spokesman declined to comment on the allegations. The US incurred significant international disapproval after previous leaks about surveilling the German Chancellor, which President Obama never officially disavowed.
Part of the issue with this current leak is that it’s difficult to verify. The original NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, came out publicly and the NSA only months later admitted some details about the controversial phone record collection program (on a Tumblr page, no less). An anonymous source leaking information about much lower profile activity may not incentivize agencies to release details either confirming or denying Bild am Sonntag‘s claim.
Certainly, this new leak will not help US-European relations. For a bit of levity, let me leave our readers with Saturday Night Live’s take on the Merkel spying scandal: