Wednesday, 18 December 2013
In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.
The German chancellor also told the US president that America’s National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.
Livid after learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the Americans were listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel confronted Obama with the accusation: “This is like the Stasi.”
The newspaper also reported that Merkel was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, “the NSA clearly couldn’t be trusted with private information, because they let Snowden clean them out.”
Snowden is to testify on the NSA scandal to a European parliament inquiry next month, to the anger of Washington which is pressuring the EU any way it can to stop the testimony.
In Brussels, the chairman of the US House select committee on intelligence, Mike Rogers, a Republican, said his views on the invitation to Snowden were “not fit to print” and that it was “not a great idea”.
Inviting someone “who is wanted in the US and has jeopardised the lives of US soldiers” was beneath the dignity of the European parliament, he said.
He declined to comment on Merkel’s alleged remarks to Obama. In comments to the Guardian, he referred to the exchange as “a conversation that may or may not have occurred”.