THE UNITED STATES National Security Agency (NSA) recorded the phone conversations of world leaders, according to documents released by Edward Snowden.
Snowden's revelations have shocked everyone including the leaders of governments around the world. Those world leaders are likely to be even more appalled to realise that it was probably recording them whenever they talked on their phones.
In papers released to the Guardian newspaper an internal NSA document asked the White House, the US State Department and the Pentagon to share the contents of their address books and Rolodexes with it.
At least one official could not resist this and shared 200 details, of which 35 belonged to world leaders and were picked up and adding to a bug list. They are not named, and their donor is anonymous.
Not anonymous are some of the world leaders who are ticked off about successive revelations about American surveillance.
Earlier this week US President Obama phoned French President François Hollande to soothe his anger regarding NSA surveillance, and since then he has also spoken with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to a report at the German Spiegel news website Merkel is concerned that she might be one of the names on the NSA's invisible contact list, and told Obama that she wouldn't stand for it.
Her spokesperson Steffen Seibert told the newspaper that such a thing would not be viewed favourably.
"This would be a grave breach of trust. Such practices must immediately be put to a stop," he said.
"As a close ally of the United States of America, the German government expects a clear contractual agreement on the activities of the agencies and their cooperation."
US President Obama reportedly dismissed claims that the NSA is listening in on Mrs Merkel, at least currently and in the future. "The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel," said a spokeswoman for the US National Security Council to Spiegel.
The European Council has also spoken up about NSA surveillance, saying that while it can see a reason for it, it can also see that overreach could prejudice relationships.
"[The Heads of State or Government] underlined the close relationship between Europe and the USA and the value of that partnership. They expressed their conviction that the partnership must be based on respect and trust, including as concerns the work and cooperation of secret services," it said on the last page of a just released report (PDF).
"They stressed that intelligence gathering is a vital element in the fight against terrorism. This applies to relations between European countries as well as to relations with the USA. A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering". µ
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