German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Barack Obama that the National Security Agency's surveillance program was reminiscent of the tactics of the Stasi, the former East German secret police, after news broke that her personal cellphone was being tapped by the U.S. government.
According to The New York Times, the comments were made during a heated conversation
in October. Merkel also suggested at the time that the NSA could not be trusted with sensitive information because of the magnitude of the leak by former contractor Edward Snowden.
"This is like the Stasi," Merkel reportedly said, according to a Times source.
Another unnamed Times source said she told Obama she was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, "the NSA clearly couldn't be trusted with information, because they let Snowden clean them out."
Merkel grew-up in East Germany, the daughter of a Protestant minister, during the time when the Stasi served as the eyes and ears of the communist dictatorship.
The phone-tapping episode only heightened the tension between the two allies following the initial revelations about the NSA's surveillance program, which outraged many throughout the European Union
. Since then, both countries have been taking steps to mend fences.
"At the president's and chancellor's direction, we continue to talk with our German partners about how we can strengthen our intelligence cooperation and address some of the concerns that have been raised," NSA spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, according to the Times.
"We've agreed that these talks are best held confidentially, so I'm not going to provide any details at this stage."
In October, the U.S. officially confirmed it was no longer monitoring any numbers associated with the chancellor and will not in the future, but declined to confirm whether it has in the past Since then, however, the Obama administration has refused to sign-on to a "no-spying" agreement.
Meanwhile, German officials argue that America's ongoing digital monitoring is a violation of German law
; a draft report by the European Parliament suggests it is also in breach of international law and European law, the U.K. Guardian reports
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