Fresh allegations have surfaced about US spying activities in Europe. The Spanish press are reporting that the National Security Agency may have been monitoring up to 60 million calls in a month. Meanwhile Germany is sending intelligence chiefs to Washington for discussions over the admission that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone may have been tapped for a decade. VoR’s Tom Spender reports.
Following allegations of mass spying against Germany, France and Italy, it’s now being reported that Spain was also targeted by the Americans, who are said to have secretly monitored 60 million phone calls there in a month.
On Monday the Spanish government summoned the US ambassador for an explanation and said the spying was “unacceptable between friends”.
Martin Roberts, a freelance journalist in Madrid, says there is so far no suggestion that current Spanish government ministers have been spied on – although ministers from previous governments may have been.
And he says most people’s main concern is the continuing recession in the country.
But while reaction in Madrid has been muted, German anger is continuing to mount.
Over the weekend new allegations surfaced that the chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone may have been tapped for a decade.
And in a rare public statement, America’s NSA denied it had told US President Barack Obama directly that it was eavesdropping on Mrs Merkel.
Mrs Merkel is dispatching intelligence chiefs to Washington to demand more answers.
On Sunday, Der Speigel magazine published details of what it said was a sophisticated listening post hidden in an anonymous-looking structure on the roof of the American embassy in Berlin.
The embassy is located in Pariser Platz, within sight of the German parliament and government ministries.
The listening post is reportedly able to monitor much of all mobile phone communication in the government quarter.
Dr James Boys is an American policy expert at Kings College London.
He says it’s embarrassing for the US but most countries use their embassies around the world to gather data.
However, Dr Boys says that in future, host countries may place restrictions upon the locations of foreign embassies over spying concerns.
With the list of countries targeted for spying growing almost by the day, pressure is mounting on the US government.
A Japanese news agency has reported that the US asked it for help in monitoring fibre optic cables carrying data to the Asia-Pacific region in a bid to spy on China.
Japan is said to have refused, citing legal restrictions and a shortage of personnel.
However, US members of Congress have suggested Germany in particular should not be surprised it is being spied upon because the 9/11 hijackers were able to hatch their plot while living in the north German city of Hamburg.
But James Boys says the spying affair is a “hiccough” in transatlantic relations rather than a long-term crisis.
Last week, EU leaders said that US spying activity against friendly countries could damage trust harm and the fight against terrorism.
And Germany and Brazil – which was also targeted – are leading efforts to pass a United Nations resolution condemning excessive spying and invasion of privacy.