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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid