German Investigation Into NSA Surveillance Of Angela Merkel Dropped
from the politic,-but-unlikely-to-be-a-popular dept
After the first wave of Snowden revelations two years ago, one of the most dramatic later claims was that the NSA had been monitoring the calls of Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel. As Techdirt reported at the time, the US government made things worse by emphasizing that it was not presently monitoring her calls, and promised not to monitor them in the future, while leaving the obvious question about past activity glaringly unanswered. Matters were not improved when President Obama then claimed that he had known nothing about the spying. No wonder, then, that a formal investigation into the allegations was launched by Germany in June 2014.
Since then, things went rather quiet, which makes news that Germany’s chief federal prosecutor is dropping the case because of lack of evidence rather surprising. As Reuters reports:
“The accusations made would not stand up in court with the means available for criminal proceedings,” the federal prosecutors office in Karlsruhe said in a statement.
“The vague remarks from U.S. officials about U.S. intelligence surveillance of the chancellor’s cell phone — i.e. ‘not any more’ — are insufficient evidence”.
However, the official statement from the chief federal prosecutor’s office (original in German) did not rule out resuming the investigation if new evidence emerged at a later date.
It is likely that Merkel and her advisers have decided that it is better to mend bridges with Obama in this face-saving way rather than to continue demanding answers from an unresponsive US government. That may be a politically reasonable move, but it is unlikely to satisfy many Germans who saw the allegations as evidence that no one was safe from US (and British) spying.
Moreover, as Techdirt noted back in 2013, the refusal by the US authorities to address these and other allegations of surveillance is contributing to the German public’s jaundiced view of the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations, which are increasingly in trouble. That skepticism is reflected by the fact that among the 2 million signatures gathered so far by the pan-European Stop TTIP online petition, fully one half come from Germany. The decision to drop the investigation into claims that the NSA listened in on Merkel’s phone calls is unlikely to make things better.