BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government asked the United States what information the National Security Agency had collected on Angela Merkel after monitoring her mobile phone for years but got no response, a German lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Omid Nouripour, a member of parliament for the opposition Greens, asked the German government in a formal parliamentary query if it had contacted Washington to discover what the NSA found out.
“I wanted to find out what the German government was doing about the NSA eavesdropping on her,” Nouripour told Reuters.
In a reply dated April 7, an official in the interior ministry who was tasked with answering Nouripour’s questions replied that the government had asked about any information on Merkel but received no answer.
“They didn’t ask firmly enough,” Nouripour said. “If you ask half-heartedly, you won’t get answers. Merkel needs to keep pressing for answers.”
Reports in October about the monitoring - based on disclosures by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden - caused outrage in Germany, which is sensitive about surveillance because of abuses by East Germany’s Stasi security police and the Nazi’s Gestapo secret police.
Nouripour, head of foreign policy issues for the Greens, said he also asked if the government had sought documents or files that might have been created in connection with the monitoring of Merkel’s cell phone, and if the U.S. government was still holding records of her calls.
Germany’s interior minister asked the U.S. embassy in Berlin for “information about the facts of the case” on October 24, 2013, the interior ministry told Nouripour in the government’s reply.
It added German government officials ”requested in numerous conversations with representatives of the American and British governments timely answers to a list of questions.
“The German government still considers it necessary to clear up the facts as a consequence of the accusations against foreign intelligence agencies,” the ministry said.
“The United States government has not provided any relevant information to the German government.”
The U.S. embassy did not respond to requests for comment.
Nouripour said Merkel needs to get answers from U.S. President Barack Obama at a meeting in Washington in May, especially on whether the data has been destroyed or not.
“I think Merkel needs to keep asking for answers to show that this isn’t a meaningless issue for her,” Nouripour said.
Allegations that the United States monitored the phone calls
of 35 world leaders, including Merkel, prompted Germany to summon the U.S. ambassador for the first time in living memory.
In response, Obama in January banned U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies, and began reining in the vast archive of Americans’ phone data, seeking to reassure Americans and foreigners alike that the United States would take more account of privacy concerns.
Editing by Sonya Hepinstall