Germany has summoned the US ambassador to Berlin over reports that the United States spied on cell phone conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is scheduled to personally meet with US Ambassador John B. Emerson on Thursday.
Germany, France and several other countries have expressed concerns about US spying after American surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed classified information about the US surveillance programs.
The German Defense Ministry has also slammed the US spying program, saying Europe cannot return to business as usual with Washington following such incidents.
The move comes a day after Merkel called President Barack Obama to demand immediate clarification over the issue. The German chancellor told Obama that if such surveillance has taken place, it amounts to a “grave breach of trust.”
Merkel had demanded an “immediate and comprehensive explanation” from the Obama administration, reports say.
In response, Obama assured Merkel that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.
Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs, under which the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting US-friendly countries.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey admitted in July that Snowden’s exposés have seriously damaged the US ties with other countries. “There has been damage. I don’t think we actually have been able to determine the depth of that damage.”