News / Europe

Europe Reacts to US Surveillance

FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 3, 2013.
FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 3, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed to a meeting of U.S. and German security officials in the coming days to discuss allegations that the National Security Agency eavesdropped on 500 million phone calls, emails, and other data passing through Germany.

This comes as the Council of Europe, a 47-member human rights body based in Strasbourg, suggested that European governments wait for the U.S. to tell its side of the story before "overreacting" to leaks.   

Allegations of U.S. spying on European phone and Internet use have dominated headlines across the continent.

And the controversy has also become a hot button issue in Germany's upcoming elections.  Germany's Social Democrats - the party set to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats - are demanding that Berlin investigate American intelligence officials.  The Social Democrats want German prosecutors to travel to Moscow to question Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor accused of leaking information about the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance.   

Daryl Lindsey, editor of the English edition of Der Spiegel, which published leaked NSA documents, says opposition parties will likely press Ms. Merkel on the issue.  

“If it turns out that Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, has been openly cooperating with the NSA in this data collection, this could have very serious constitutional implications here.  The government will face legal challenges and there could be political consequences for politicians as well," said Lindsey.

Outside of Germany, the reaction has been more cautious.  Daniel Holtgen of the Council of Europe, a European human-`rights group, thinks many governments are waiting to hear from the Obama administration before they react.

"We are now referring to reports from The Guardian and from Der Spiegel, but we should wait in particular from the reaction and the response from the U.S., as it has been promised by President Obama," said Holtgen.

In Switzerland, the allegations of American spying have been met with pleas by that country's foreign minister to keep calm.

Relations between the two countries are already strained over alleged tax evasion by Americans using Swiss bank accounts and an earlier accusation by Snowden that CIA agents encouraged a Swiss banker to drive while drunk in a plan to recruit him.  

Simon Johner, a spokesman for Switzerland's intelligence agency, told VOA the latest accusations are not especially surprising.

"Swiss officials have been aware of foreign spying in the country, especially industrial espionage," said Johner.

Sergey Lagodinsky is a foreign-policy expert at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany, part of the Green political movement. He thinks the Obama administration should employ public diplomacy to counteract the spying allegations and rebuild public trust in Europe.

“I think the administration will have to do serious thinking regarding public diplomacy.  I think what's been broken here through these leaks is the trust of Europe’s remaining Trans-Atlanticists," said Lagodinsky.

Meanwhile, fears that the revelations could derail upcoming EU-U.S. trade talks appear to have been allayed.  Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's president, François Hollande, agreed on July 4 to drop demands for a delay after the U.S. offered to talk about the spying allegations in parallel with trade negotiations.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid