News / Europe

    The Guardian: US Spied on 35 World Leaders

    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and France's President Francois Hollande attend a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Oct. 24, 2013.
    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and France's President Francois Hollande attend a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Oct. 24, 2013.
    Kent Klein
    The Guardian newspaper reports that White House, Pentagon and State Department officials confirm the United States spied on the phone conversations of 35 world leaders.

    The latest report comes as European leaders have united behind a furious Germany to denounce the United States for allegations it spied on its allies.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she has made it clear to U.S. President Barack Obama that spying on allies is unacceptable.

    Speaking Thursday as she arrived at a summit of the European Union's 28 leaders in Brussels, Merkel said she told Obama during a telephone call Wednesday that "spying on friends is not acceptable at all."

    "We need to have trust in our allies and partners and this trust must now be established once again," she said.      

    The two leaders spoke Wednesday after allegations emerged that the U.S. National Security Agency had monitored Merkel's cell phone calls. During Wednesday's telephone call, Obama told Merkel the United States is not monitoring, and will not monitor her communications.

    US ambassador summoned

    Merkel summoned U.S. Ambassador John Emerson to meet Thursday in Berlin with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was expected to "spell out the position of the German government."

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama called Merkel on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

    "All I can tell you is what the President told the chancellor. The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said Carney.

    German officials say that explanation is not good enough, because the U.S. is not saying that it has not tapped the chancellor's phone in the past.

    The U.S. also was criticized in Brussels by the leaders of Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Austria.  Mexico and Brazil are investigating whether the NSA spied on their top officials.

    Hollande underscores issue

    French President Francois Hollande wanted the U.S. spying matter put on the EU agenda. His foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, pressed Secretary of State John Kerry on the issue this week.

    "We, of course, agree to have cooperation in the fight against terrorism. This is essential. But this does not justify the act of listening to the personal data of millions of our compatriots," said Fabius.

    Fabius said France agrees to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, but that does not justify listening to the personal data of millions of people.

    James Andrew Lewis is the director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said European reaction to the alleged U.S. spying is politically motivated, but it could damage the alliances nonetheless.

    "A lot of it is for public consumption, but it's for their public. Their publics are angry, and the big problem we're looking at is there's been a change in European public opinion about the United States for the worse because of these spying scandals," he said.

    Full disclosure and partnering

    Lewis believes Washington should do a better job of addressing allies' anger about NSA activities.

    "We need a different policy than not commenting on this publicly, and I know it's going to be difficult to come up with an explanation, but the U.S. needs to address the concerns of its European allies, and if we don't do that, we'll only see further harm to the Transatlantic relationship," said Lewis.

    NSA Director Keith Alexander, who has announced plans to retire, recently said U.S. allies appreciate the data gathering because it also protects their countries from terror attacks.

    "Many people have asked me, how has this impacted your relationship with allies? Here is what I get: 'Keep working with us. The intelligence you get us to defend our country is what we really need,'" said Alexander.

    Many of the reports of NSA spying on allies came from leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    Germany's defense minister said that if the alleged surveillance is confirmed, the U.S. and Germany could not simply return to business as usual.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: don muntean from: Saskatchewan
    October 24, 2013 10:17 AM
    Of course I have been fighting the worst such abuse known - for over 11 years - I'm not unconvinced that there isn't some NSA connections to this matter - of course no one cares about the little guy - even though our society is made up of the little guy. So advice for everyone: say goodbye to privacy!


    by: BarleySinger
    October 24, 2013 6:46 AM
    The idea that this sort of intelligence gathering is normal, is not true. Where I live in Australia we have a PRIVACY COMMISSION who would go ballistic over this sort of thing. I can walk down the street without my face being tracked everywhere I go, and my whereabouts kept in a secret computer for "just in case", and my phone calls are not all being recorded (except by those grabbed by the USA). I traded the USA in for a nation with no Bill of Rights, and I am still more free than anyone in the USA has been in a long time - with my rights only respected by the government because it is the right thing to do ... because of it being the social norm here to have them. Having a Constitution and a Bill of Rights which is totally ignored is far worse than a government who gives you those rights and sees no need to write them all down. I would like them written down and followed by I want them FOLLOWED more than I want the WRITTEN


    by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
    October 24, 2013 6:18 AM
    -----------U.S. intelligence director James Clapper issued a statement Tuesday saying the intelligence gathered by the United States is the type "gathered by all nations" as part of their efforts to combat terrorism and other threats.--------
    Also, Mr. Obama says we are not monitoring nor will monitor in the future. Are we to interpret, we were doing it, but got caught and so we won't do it again. This s goobldygook.
    Does this include monitoring the leaders the Nations? How would we react if we come to know some Country is monitoring our President's calls?
    Every time Clapper opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora