Report: NSA bugging top German ministers

Instead of tapping into the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on her top deputies, according to a German report.

The Bild am Sonntag paper reported that 320 people including the country’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, are among the spy agency’s targets, according to a translation from Reuters. The paper said that a high-ranking NSA employee provided information that led to the report.


"We have had the order not to miss out on any information now that we are no longer able to monitor the chancellor's communication directly," the NSA employee said, according to the paper.

Revelations that the NSA had been snooping on Merkel’s cell phone caused an uproar from Germany last year and, along with outrage at other countries and at home in the U.S., prompted President Obama to announce a series of reforms to the surveillance program.

In a speech last month, Obama said the U.S. “will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies,” unless “there is a compelling national security purpose."

That commitment did not extend to top government officials, however, and Obama recently clarified that the U.S. does not have a “no-spy agreement” with Germany or any other country, despite Berlin’s attempts.

De Maiziere is one of Merkel’s closest allies and was one of the most critical German officials after initial reports emerged about the NSA’s spying on foreign leaders

“It really can’t work like this,” he told the leading German public broadcaster, ARD, at the time. “We can’t simply go back to business as usual."