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.

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Comments on “German Investigation Into NSA Surveillance Of Angela Merkel Dropped”

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11 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Cynical view

Perhaps the chief federal prosecutor’s office dropped the case because they knew they were not getting anywhere, and dropping it at least lets them put out a news release that reminds everyone that this had happened. A reminder release that says “We’re still looking into it” would not be nearly as powerful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cynical view

“A reminder release that says “We’re still looking into it” would not be nearly as powerful.”

Powerful?
In 1. he basicly says they can’t prove anything because the USA won’t give them the original documents and the document in the press won’t be enough in court even thou the phonenumber in the document was indeed one used by Merkel.

2. Again, the documents can’t be used in court. Then something about how it doesn’t matter that Merkels name shows up 300 times.

3. The german NSA (BND)and among others the agency that is there to for security in IT can’t find anything to define the what, when and who more precisely.

4. Trying to find more clues will probably not be successful. But if there is new evidence we will continue looking into it.

5. Oh yeah… the whole spying on the german public thing.

Doesn’t sound that powerful to me

Anonymous Coward says:

Funny story...

Even if they had found any definive prove I’m not sure they would be allowed to use it in court without the consent of the US. And my guess is the US had said no.

NATO SOFA SUPPLEMENTARY AGREEMENT, article 38

“1. If in the course of criminal or non-criminal proceedings or hearings before a court of
authority of a force or of the Federal Republic it appears that the disclosure of an official
secret of either of the States concerned, or the disclosure of any information which could
prejudice the security of either of them might result, the court or the authority shall, prior
to taking further action, seek the written consent of the appropriate authority to the
disclosure of the official secret or information. In the event that the appropriate authority
advances considerations against disclosure, the court or authority shall take all steps in its
power, including those to which paragraph 2 of this Article relates, to prevent such
disclosure, provided no constitutional right of any party to the proceedings is thereby
impaired.”

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121026065214/www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/A921BCF9-97C5-4716-8262-44F96196061E/0/nato_sofa_supplementary_agreement.pdf#page=43

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why pay your minions when its far better and way cheaper, to simply send them brown envelopes, filled with the NSA’s surveillance based compromising pictures and lists of the things you’re willing to expose about each of them publicly, should they not drop the investigation.

Murder Incorporated, move over and make way for Extortion Incorporated.

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