Germany begins formal inquiry of NSA phone tapping

Prosecutor Harald Range said the inquiry would be limited to Merkel and her cellphone.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   June 4, 2014 at 3:40 PM   |   Comments

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BERLIN, June 4 (UPI) -- A formal inquiry into whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel's telephone was tapped by the U.S. National Security Agency will begin, a German prosecutor said Wednesday.

Chief federal prosecutor Harald Range told legislators an investigation into the allegations would be opened, but the inquiry will be restricted to alleged bugging of Merkel's cellphone. It will not investigate claims the NSA engaged in wide-scale spying on data connections and corporations in Germany.

Range's announcement is seen as a reversal of plans, since last week it appeared no investigation was planned. He has been under increasing pressure to investigate the NSA's surveillance in Germany, and Merkel has demanded an explanation from the NSA.

The allegations have cooled relations between Washington and Berlin.

The NSA is also believed to have tapped the phone of Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel's predecessor as Chancellor, after he publicly opposed calls by then-President George W. Bush in 2003 for war in Iraq.

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