Citing documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about intelligence-gathering operations in Germany, the German newspaper said Sunday German Chancellor Angela Merkel was wiretapped as early as 2002 by a top-secret unit known as the Special Collection Service.
A classified NSA document from 2010 said the SCS operates in Berlin and has agents in 80 locations around the world -- with two bases in Germany, where agents work undercover and under diplomatic protection.
Spiegel said the documents strongly suggest the SCS targeted the cellphone Merkel uses mainly to talk to party members, ministers and advisers. The order for the intercept was placed in 2002.
Another document said SCS's elite listening devices could intercept virtually every form of communication, including wireless networks and satellite communications.
NSA experts identified what appears to be a facility on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Berlin from which a large number of cellphone conversations made from nearby offices of the German government could be monitored.
The documents indicate microwave and millimeter-wave signals, as well as web-based operations, can also be intercepted.