Germany drops probe into Merkel phone tap

Germany drops probe into Merkel phone tap
© Getty Images

Germany’s top prosecutor on Friday abandoned a yearlong investigation into reports that U.S. spies monitored the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Government officials had concluded that that there was not enough evidence to move forward against the National Security Agency, they said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The decision to drop the case shows how much tensions between the U.S. and Germany have been smoothed over the last year, after reports that the NSA’s activity seriously strained ties.

The tension burst into the open at times, with Merkel declaring in late 2013 that “spying among friends is never acceptable.”

On the heels of reports about the U.S. spying on Merkel, Germany’s top prosecutor Harald Range last summer opened an investigation into the allegations. However, he signaled in December that the probe wasn’t going well and that it had failed to turn up much evidence to back up the initial claims about the NSA's snooping.

"The accusation cannot be proven in a legally sound way under criminal law,” his office acknowledged on Friday, according to the BBC

In part, closure of the investigation turns the page on the period of troubled relations between Washington and Berlin.

President Obama traveled to Germany to meet with other leaders of the Group of Seven nations last weekend. He appeared to take pains to put the tensions behind him.

According to the White House, the alleged eavesdropping did not come up in Obama’s meeting with Merkel. Press secretary Josh Earnest called the omission “an indication that of all of the priorities that our two countries have.” 

Still, the spying has not been swept entirely under the rug.

A committee in Germany’s parliament is continuing to investigate the NSA, though that panel seemed not to have made significant progress, either.

Last week, the Senate passed and Obama signed legislation to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records and make its spying more transparent. For Americans, the phone records program was the most controversial of the NSA programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in the summer of 2013.