UK & World News
Merkel's Phone 'Bugged For Decade By US'
The United States may have bugged Angela Merkel's phone for more than 10 years, it has been claimed.
Der Spiegel magazine said the German chancellor's mobile telephone had been listed by the National Security Agency's (NSA) Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 and was still on the list weeks before Barack Obama visited Berlin in June.
Germany's outrage over reports of bugging of Ms Merkel's phone by the NSA prompted it to summon the US ambassador for the first time in living memory.
In an SCS document cited by Der Spiegel, the agency said it had a "not legally registered spying branch" in the US embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to "grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government".
From there, NSA and CIA staff were tapping communication in Berlin's government district with high-tech surveillance.
The military-led NSA is America's biggest and most secret spy agency, which specialises in hi-tech eavesdropping of satellite, cell and fibre-optic communications globally.
It has huge 'data warehouses' in the US where it stores voice, fax, data, emails and internet traffic indefinitely.
Communications of all non-Americans are considered to be legitimate targets of the NSA, however it tries to stress its important role in thwarting terror attacks.
Quoting a secret document from 2010, Der Spiegel said such branches existed in about 80 locations around the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.
The magazine said it was not clear whether the SCS had recorded conversations or just connection data.
Mr Obama apologised to Merkel when she called him on Wednesday to seek clarification on the issue, Der Spiegel wrote, citing a source in Ms Merkel's office.
Ms Merkel's spokesman and the White House declined comment.
The rift over US surveillance activities first emerged earlier this year after reports that Washington had bugged European Union offices and had tapped half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month.
But it appeared close to resolution after Ms Merkel's government said in August - just weeks before a parliamentary election - the United States had given sufficient assurances they were upholding German law.
Mr Obama ordered a review of US surveillance programmes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that raised alarm in America and abroad.
:: On Sunday, Swiss President Ueli Maurer confirmed his government would role out new technology designed to better shield state communications from eavesdroppers.