Germany Opens Criminal Probe Into NSA Tapping of Merkel’s Phone

Prosecutor: Espionage a Crime Even If It's an Ally

Germany’s Federal Public Prosecutor has announced a criminal probe has been opened into the NSA’s wiretapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, and that Germany would prosecute individuals found to be involved in the scheme.

“Espionage is a crime in Germany regardless of whether those spying are friends or enemies,” noted prosecutor Harald Range, who said his office has information on specific individuals who were involved in the Merkel tap.

The revelation of the Merkel tap came in October, as part of the trove of documents from Edward Snowden. The White House initially denied involvement in the spying, but has since promised to never again spy on the leaders of allied nations.

Germany, a nation with a long history of governments with abusive surveillance programs, has taken the NSA story particularly seriously. Indeed, German opposition figures’ only qualm was that the probe wasn’t broad enough, saying they felt it should include surveillance of all Germans, not just the chancellor.

Range says that the probe of Merkel may indeed just be a jumping off point, and that he will broaden the case if the office gets more evidence on the general surveillance programs against Germany.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of