Today, Wednesday 8 July at 1800 CEST, WikiLeaks publishes three NSA intercepts of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with a list of 56 National Security Agency (NSA) target selectors for the Chancellor and the Chancellery. It lists not only confidential numbers for the Chancellor, but also for her top officials, her aides, her chief of staff, her political office and even her fax machine. The combined German NSA target lists released by WikiLeaks so far shows the NSA explicitly targeted for long-term surveillance 125 phone numbers for top German officials and did so for political and economic reasons, according to its own designations.
The intercepts published today show that the most senior levels of the US Executive were appraised of Chancellor Merkel’s plans on how to respond to the international financial crisis and the Eurozone bank bailout. Her private views about Obama’s engagement with Iran were also intercepted as she spoke to the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Shaykh Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan.
The target list includes almost two dozen targeted telephone numbers at the federal agency (German: Bundeskanzleramt) that serves the executive office of the Chancellor, surrounding the Chancellor in a web of surveillance. The intensive nature of US targeting around the Chancellor explains why the White House could easily commit to not targeting Angela Merkel personally in the future, but continues to refuse to make such a commitment for other members of the German government – the Chancellor cannot run the government by talking to herself.
The list of selectors that are targeted include several cell phone numbers, including the Vodafone number for Chancellor Merkel that was in use through 2013. The Vodafone number for former head of the Chancellery from 2009 to December 2013 (and therefore ultimately in charge of the BND for that time, which was through the start of the Snowden revelations), Ronald Pofalla, is also on the list. Pofalla stated on 12 August 2013 after the Snowden documents first surfaced that “the US side offered us a no-spy agreement”; however, since then it has become clear this is not the case.
Pofalla was questioned on Thursday 2 July, in the most recent German Parliamentary Inquiry session into the BND and NSA, where he stated that there was no proof that Chancellor Merkel had been spied on. This is despite a publication in February 2014 detailing NSA targeting of a number for Merkel which launched an investigation into this surveillance. However, the investigation was dropped on 12 June this year due to lack of evidence. WikiLeaks’ publication today provides this evidence through the NSA intercept reports derived from the interceptions provided through these selectors. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said: “There is now proof enough of NSA surveillance on German soil. It is time to reopen the investigation and for the NSA to stop engaging in its illegal activities against Germany.”
The T-Mobile and O2 cell number for Géza Andreas von Geyr, former department head of a unit of Foreign and Security Policy at the Chancellery (responsible for bilateral US relations) was targeted, as was the T-Mobile number for Bernard Kotsch. He is current Deputy Head of the Federal Chancellery Office.
The names associated with some of the targets indicate that spying on the Chancellery predates Angela Merkel as it includes staff of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (in office 1998–2002), and his predecessor Helmut Kohl. This mirrors the US approach to its targeting of French officials, which showed interceptions extending back to President Sarkozy and President Chirac.
The list has been updated for more than a decade after it was standardised in 2002. However, a close study of the list shows that it has evolved from an earlier target list extending back to the 1990s. Some of the old Chancellery numbers from the Bonn years are targeted and still in use, but redirect callers to Berlin.
Many of the targeted numbers are for top officials and advisors handling the Economic and Financial Policy at the Chancellery (Division 4), Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Division 2). It is also noteworthy that the list includes targets at Division 6, responsible for co-ordination of the intelligence service of the German Federation.
Today’s publication includes three NSA reports based on interceptions. One is from 2009 and details German Chancellor Merkel’s views on the international financial crisis, expressed in February of that year. It outlines concerns for the impaired assets of banks and questioning of the approach taken by the US Federal Reserve. The Chancellor expressed support for the principles in the framework of dealing with toxic assets, being discussed at a forthcoming meeting of G-20 nations in London on 2 April 2009. The Chancellor wants banks to share responsibility for toxic assets and expressed that at least Germany would not have an “anonymous garbage bin” where such assets would be dumped. The Chancellor thought that the Federal Reserve was “taking risks”, according to the intercept.
The second NSA intercept report, published today, is based on communications between Chancellor Merkel and Crown Prince Shaykh Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan of the United Arab Emirates in March 2009. The two met in person in January of the same year when the Crown Prince was on a public visit to Germany. In the intercepted talk Chancellor Merkel and the Crown Prince exchanged their views of the reaction in Tehran to a recent online New Year’s video message by President Obama to the Iranian public. Obama’s message was released on 20 March on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year. The Chancellor and the Crown Prince exchanged views on the reaction by Iranian leaders to Obama’s initiative. The report is labelled Top Secret and Highly Sensitive but shared with the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (the “Five Eyes”).
The third Top Secret report published today by WikiLeaks is based on interception of communication between Chancellor Merkel and two of her advisers, Helge Hassold and Albrecht Morgenstern on 28 August 2011. The topic was the draft of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and certain reservations the advisers had because of lack of references to conditionality and contagion in the outline for the new instruments that they wanted Germany to press. Merkel’s advisers also stated concerns that interest expenses were absent in the guarantee amounts, pointing out that those expenses have grown because of debt extension granted to Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
See more: www.wikileaks.org