NSA spied on German press, says report
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The Obama administration allegedly spied on Germany’s government and media before using what it found to influence its free press, a new report says.

An official representing both the CIA and NSA in Berlin reportedly used surveillance information as leverage over a German news publication, according to CNN.

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It said on Friday that the official met Günter Heiss, Germany’s government intelligence coordinator, in the summer of 2011.

They accused Heiss’s deputy, Hans-Josef Vorbeck, of leaking classified intelligence information to the German press.

Heiss then traveled to Washington and discussed Vorbeck’s actions with U.S. officials there, CNN said.

It added that the German Chancellery then opened a file containing U.S. interceptions of Vorbeck’s interactions with journalists.

Vorbeck was then re-assigned in August to Germany’s Archive, CNN said, a move widely interpreted as punishment for collaborating with reporters on intelligence matters.

The incident details previously unseen cooperation between U.S. spy agencies and the Bundesnachrichtenendienst, or BND, Germany’s intelligence equivalent.

It also revealed that the CIA and NSA may have monitored German news outlets during the same period, most notably Der Spiegel.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price neither confirmed nor denied details of the reported incident on Friday.

“People around the world – regardless of their nationality – should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security,” Price said. “We also have made clear that we take their privacy concerns into account.”

Price also refuted claims that the U.S. had manipulated Germany’s freedom of the press using intelligence it possessed.

“While we are not going to discuss specific targets, we have repeatedly made clear that the United States does not collect intelligence for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion,” he said.

“Signals intelligence is collected exclusively where there is a foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose to support these missions and not for any other purposes,” Price added.

Der Spiegel notably reported that the NSA was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2013 with information gleaned from for U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden.

WkiLeaks published additional files from Snowden on Thursday, expanding upon the scope of American surveillance on Merkel.

She reportedly said in private communications that she was “at a loss” over the Greek financial crisis.

WikiLeaks also alleged that the NSA was monitoring multiple German ministers in addition to Merkel.