Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office asked the US ambassador to come in on Thursday to discuss new allegations of NSA spying, which threaten to drive a new wedge through transatlantic ties.
In the latest eruption in a nearly two-year rift over illicit espionage, a German government source said "US ambassador (John) Emerson was invited to the chancellery to talk", confirming a report by the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily that said Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier had requested the meeting.
The US embassy had no immediate comment, but news agency DPA quoted an unnamed German government official as saying the meeting would take place in a "crisis atmosphere".
German media had reported yesterday that new documents released by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks appear to show the United States did not just tap Merkel's mobile phone but also eavesdropped on several ministers.
German-US relations were badly strained after fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed widespread US foreign surveillance, although a probe into the alleged tapping of Merkel's mobile phone was dropped last month due to lack of proof.
The federal prosecutor's office said today, however, that it was considering reopening an investigation into US National Security Agency (NSA) activities in Germany in light of the new evidence.
According to the latest Wikileaks documents, the NSA did not limit its snooping activities to Merkel, and showed particular interest in the ministries of finance, economy and agriculture, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and two public broadcasters reported.
They said WikiLeaks had shown them a list of 69 phone numbers that were reportedly targeted, belonging to ministers and senior officials. The list appears to date back to between 2010 and 2012.
Current Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was among those spied on by the NSA, the reports said, although they noted that he was in the opposition at the time.