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News Link • Surveillance

Friends or Foes? Berlin Must Protect Germans from US Spying

• Laura Poitras, Rosenbach and Stark, Spiegel

The German government has failed to protect the public from the NSA's surveillance program and should be held accountable. On both a national and an EU level, there needs to be an independent investigation into the scandal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally got around to commenting on Monday, two days after SPIEGEL reported that the NSA has been storing and evaluating data from around half a billion communications connections in Germany each month. Her reaction, to be sure, was harsh. "The monitoring of friends -- this is unacceptable. It can't be tolerated. We're no longer in the Cold War," she said through her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

But the dimensions of US data surveillance -- and the fact that much of that data was collected in Europe -- have been generally known for weeks, as a result of documents made public by Edward Snowden. Yet when US President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June, the Chancellor merely asked a few polite questions. That was it.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich also appeared to be trying to make up for lost time on Monday, demanding an apology from the US in an interview with the news magazine Focus. "If the reports are confirmed, it would be a burden on the trust between the EU and the US," he said.


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