WikiLeaks published a list of German phone numbers Wednesday that it claimed showed the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on senior German officials beyond Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Reports two years ago that Merkel\’s phone had been targeted by the NSA prompted diplomatic friction between Berlin and Washington, but German prosecutors recently dropped their probe into the case citing lack of concrete evidence.
The secrecy-spilling site\’s latest report is likely to rekindle concerns in Germany that the NSA was engaged in widespread surveillance of its close ally. Last week, WikiLeaks published documents that appeared to show the NSA had eavesdropped on the French government, prompting anger in Paris.
WikiLeaks said the new, partially-redacted list of 69 phone and fax numbers belonged to senior officials at Germany\’s economy and finance ministries, among others.
The site also published two documents it claimed were summaries of conversations intercepted — one involving Merkel and a second involving a senior aide — concerning the Greek debt crisis. The second conversation was intercepted by British intelligence, which passed it to the NSA, according to WikiLeaks.
It wasn\’t immediately possible to confirm the accuracy of the documents. But German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which said it had been given access to the documents, reported on its website that the list appeared to be from a period between 2010 and 2012, and at least some of the numbers are still in use.
WikiLeaks didn\’t provide a source for the documents. But the site has a history of publishing confidential U.S. government files and one of its contributors, Sarah Harrison, is a close associate of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked secret documents exposing numerous U.S. surveillance programs.
German government officials didn\’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.
Germany appoints senior judge to inspect list of NSA targets
Germany on Wednesday named a former senior judge as special investigator to inspect a list of targets that German intelligence tracked on behalf of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), causing a political uproar.
Critics have accused Chancellor Angela Merkel\’s staff of giving the German BND foreign intelligence agency the green light to help the NSA spy on European firms and officials, triggering a scandal that has dented Merkel\’s popularity.
Espionage is an especially sensitive issue in Germany because of abuses in the Nazi and Communist eras. Revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about wide-ranging U.S. spying in close ally Germany caused outrage, which was compounded by allegations that the BND was complicit.
Merkel\’s coalition agreed on Kurt Graulich, a former judge at the Federal Administrative Court, to be the special investigator, according to the head of the parliamentary committee investigating NSA practices, Christian Flisek.
Opposition lawmakers had asked for details of the list, which is considered crucial to establishing whether German intelligence officials were at fault in helping the NSA.
But the chancellery has said it does not expect the U.S. government to formally agree in the immediate future to a public airing of the list. It therefore suggested appointing a "trusted individual" who alone would see its contents.
Last month, Merkel\’s office told the committee in a letter seen by Reuters that the investigator\’s mandate would be such that he could answer questions posed by lawmakers albeit without "disclosing concrete content from the list".
The chancellery proposed that the investigator be allowed to inspect the list of targets, including the IP addresses of individual computers, and report back to the committee.