Europe’s anger grows over alleged U.S. spying

The Los Angeles Times reports: European leaders united in outrage Thursday over reported U.S. spying, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel declaring that trust between her government and the Obama administration would need to be rebuilt after reports that U.S. intelligence agencies might have tapped her cellphone.

Amid signs of anger from close allies over mass electronic surveillance, Germany’s Foreign Ministry also summoned U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson to make clear its displeasure. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said afterward that he had demanded that “these activities that have been reported will be comprehensively investigated. We need the truth now.”

Arriving at a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, Merkel said she had “repeatedly made clear to the American president [that] spying among friends is absolutely not OK. I said that to him in June when he was in Berlin, also in July, and yesterday in a telephone call.

“We need trust among allies and partners,” she said. “Such trust must now be built anew.”

Her anger was matched by that of other European leaders at the 28-nation meeting. “We want the truth,” Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta was quoted as telling reporters. “It is not in the least bit conceivable that activity of this type could be acceptable.”

Reuters adds: A delegation of lawmakers from the European Union will travel to Washington on Monday to seek a response to allegations of widespread spying by the United States against EU citizens and governments, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The three-day visit by members of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee follows reports this week that the U.S. National Security Agency accessed tens of thousands of French phone records and monitored Merkel’s mobile phone.

The revelations have drawn condemnation from EU leaders meeting in Brussels, with Merkel demanding that the United States sign up to a “no-spying” agreement with Germany and France by the end of the year, in line with similar deals with Britain and others.

The nine-member delegation will meet senior U.S. government and intelligence officials and explore “possible legal remedies for EU citizens” resulting from the alleged surveillance, although it is not clear what such remedies might entail.

The European Parliament has already opened an inquiry into the impact on Europe from leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and has led a push for tougher data protection rules and the suspension of a major transatlantic data-sharing deal.

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