BERLIN – Germany’s foreign intelligence agency tapped at least one phone call involving U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Der Spiegel magazine reported Saturday, a day after other German media outlets said security agents also spied on his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.
The BND agency’s phone-tapping program in the Middle East eavesdropped on a satellite phone call Kerry made in 2013, the weekly magazine said.
Citing unnamed sources, Der Spiegel also referred to media reports Friday that the BND tapped a 2012 phone call between Clinton and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan when she was U.S. secretary of state, saying that both calls were collected “accidentally” as part of the foreign intelligence agency’s work in conflict areas.
Der Spiegel also cited a BND memo that includes Turkey as a target for German spying even though it is a NATO ally, which would contradict statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the effect that allies should not eavesdrop on one another.
The latest spying reports come at a time of strained relations between Germany and the United States.
In July, the German government asked the top intelligence official at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to leave the country.
Authorities had earlier arrested a member of Germany’s intelligence services on charges he spied for the United States and media accounts say a defense ministry employee is also under investigation.
Even before the spy cases, Germans were angry about the U.S. National Security Agency’s extensive surveillance of their communications.
Documents released by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden showed that the electronic spying operation included Merkel’s cellphone.
Even though the reports about German eavesdropping on Kerry and Clinton indicate the cases were accidental, the revelations are an embarrassment for Merkel and reinforce the claims of Germany’s opposition that her government does not want to delve deeper into the subject because its intelligence services are engaging in the same practices.