BERLIN: The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has spied not only on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but also on numerous high-ranking government members such as the economy and finance ministers, German media reported on Wednesday.
Revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about wide-ranging U.S. spying have caused outrage in close ally Germany where privacy is an especially sensitive issue after the extensive surveillance by Communist East Germany`s Stasi secret police and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era.
The spying scandal was compounded by allegations that the German BND foreign intelligence agency helped the NSA and tracked other European targets on behalf of the NSA.
In the latest development, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcasting network ARD reported, based on Wikileaks documents, that the NSA targeted 69 telephone numbers in the German government administration.
Among the officials being targeted were Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel as well as several of his deputy ministers, the reports said. British intelligence agencies were also involved in some of the operations, they said.
Germany and the United States have been at odds over the NSA spying practices since Snowden`s revelations showed Washington had listened in on many of its allies, including Merkel.
However, Germany`s top public prosecutor last month closed a year-long investigation into the suspected tapping of Merkel`s cell phone by U.S. spies, saying evidence that would stand up in court was lacking.