German tabloid says Obama knew of Merkel phone bugging

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German tabloid says Obama knew of Merkel phone bugging

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Dubbing it “Handygate” after the German word for a mobile phone – the tabloid Bild am Sonntag has challenged President Obama’s protests of ignorance over spying allegations. It claims the US president knew Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was being bugged in 2010.

It also says intelligence staff working in the US embassy in Berlin, sent their findings straight to the White House, rather than to National Security Agency headquarters.

The bugging allegedly began against Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schroeder after he refused to back President Bush’s war against Iraq

According to Bild, Obama did not stop the operation and even extended surveillance on Merkel to include tapping a new supposedly bug-proof mobile she acquired last summer.

The NSA has denied the tabloid reports.

Last week President Obama is said to have apologised to Chancellor Merkel when the recent spying allegations came to light.

NSA officials claim the alleged bugging of her phone has never been discussed with the president.