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German parliamentary inquiry into surveillance begins

Germany’s committee of inquiry into surveillance of German citizens by the NSA and its partners has held its first hearing today in Berlin. Proceedings are being broadcast live on the internet, with a time-lag.

Following months of negotiations, Germany’s four major parties unanimously approved a parliamentary inquiry into surveillance in March. The Snowden revelations have proven particularly resonant in Germany, where there have been repeated demands for the public prosecutor’s office to look into allegations of surveillance on German citizens, including the Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the possible complicity of the German intelligence service, the BND.

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US taps Merkel’s mobile phone and spies from its Berlin Embassy

Recently released documents reveal that the joint NSA-CIA unit called the Special Collection Service (SCS) very likely targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. Merkel’s phone number is a ‘Selector Value’ in the documents, and dates and active status also indicate that monitoring of her number began in 2002 and was active in June of 2013.

The SCS has sites in around 80 locations, including two in Germany. Der Spiegel reports that the SCS sets up equipment to intercept cellular signals, wireless networks and satellite communication from US embassies:

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel questions Obama over tapping of her mobile phone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called US President Obama on 23 October 2013, demanding an explanation of evidence that US intelligence agencies had tapped her mobile phone.

Merkel made it clear that, should these indications turn out to be true, she “unequivocally disapproves” of such methods and finds them “totally unacceptable” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “This would be a grave breach of trust,” he added. “Such practices must immediately be put to a stop.”

The White House has responded by stating: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel,” refusing to comment on the past tense of the same statement.

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