Monday 22 January 2018

Germany drops probe into alleged US tapping of Angela Merkel's phone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: Francois Lenoir
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: Francois Lenoir

David Kearns

Germany has dropped an investigation into alleged tapping of Angela Merkel's mobile phone by the US National Security Agency, saying there is not enough evidence to stand up in court.

Last June federal prosecutors opened an inquiry into the alleged monitoring of a phone used by the German Chancellor for party business after US whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked secrets about large-scale US surveillance in 2013.

However, chief prosecutor Harald Range said the investigation was now closed because "[the] documents published so far [by Edward Snowden] contain no evidence of surveillance of the cellphone used by the chancellor solid enough for a court.”

Read More: Merkel exposed in US phone snooping outrage

In a statement on Friday, Mr Range noted that journalists involved in publishing Mr Snowden’s documents were entitled to refuse testimony, and argued that public statements by Mr Snowden give no indication that he has personal knowledge of the surveillance of Ms Merkel’s phone.

“The vague comments by US officials about possible surveillance of the chancellor’s mobile telecommunication by a US intelligence service ‘not any more’ are not enough to describe what happened,” he added.

Read More: Germany 'intercepted calls from Clinton and Kerry' - newspaper

“The comments, which were viewed in public as a general admission of guilt, do not discharge us from (fulfilling) the burden of proof according to the requirements of criminal procedure.”

Last December, Mr Range signalled that the investigation was not going well, saying that he had found no actionable evidence.

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