There is a new twist in the spy row between Washington and Berlin. It is being claimed that the current US Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton were eavesdropped on by the German foreign intelligence agency BND.
Reportedly the BND “accidently” listened in on a couple of their phone calls as they were actually targeting the Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan.
The revelation that the Germans spied on Turkey – a NATO ally – came in the magazine Der Spiegel and brought a demand for an explanation from the head of the parliamentary committee that oversees the intelligence service.
Bundestag Security Committee chair Wolfgang Bosbach also lamented that Washington would now seize on this report: “If it’s true that they monitored Secretary of State Clinton and later John Kerry by accident as a “by product” then that is not the same as the NSA’s mass surveillance. Nevertheless this news is a godsend for the Americans. They’ll say: ‘OK, these Germans complain bitterly about our monitoring practices, and they do it themselves’.”
A BND spokeswoman told Reuters Germany was not tapping the phones of allied countries and said the United States was not a target.
“Any accidental recordings are deleted immediately,” she added.
Relations between the United States and Germany became strained when it was revealed last year that a listening post on top of the US embassy in Berlin had been used to eavesdrop on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
That information came from former US spy contractor Edward Snowden who disclosed that the National Security Agency had also tracked ordinary German citizens’ communications.
The dispute was revived in July when Germany’s Federal Prosecutor arrested a BND employee on suspicion of spying for the Americans.
Merkel said in an interview last month that the United States and Germany had fundamentally different concepts of the role of the intelligence service, and she stressed the Cold War was over.