Defense

German Intelligence Tapped Clinton and Kerry Calls

Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel // Michael Sohn/AP

Germany's intelligence agency has acknowledged that it eavesdropped on "at least one" phone call of Secretary of State John Kerry as well as of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, while they were aboard U.S. government jets, according to German media. 

Der Spiegel, citing unnamed sources within Germany's BND, said the intelligence organization had tapped a satellite phone Kerry's conversation while he was negotiating with Israelis and Palestinians last year and also recorded a call between Clinton and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. 

The BND has said that it did not intend to capture the calls, but instead that it was targeting a frequency that a terror suspect was using which happened to be the same as the secretaries of state. "Any accidental recordings are deleted immediately," said a BND spokesperson.

Der Speigel reported earlier this month that Israel had spied on Secretary Kerry by intercepting his calls during peace negotiations last year.

The revelation may come with a certain level of embarrassment for Merkel, who scolded President Barack Obama when she learned that some of her phone calls had been recorded by the NSA, as revealed by Edward Snowden last year. This led Merkel to push for a U.S.-Germany non-spying agreement.

"We want this cooperation based on partnership," said Merkel in an interview last month. "But we have different ideas, and part of this is that we don't spy on each other."

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