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Germany drops probe into NSA's Merkel phone-hacking

Secretive US spies wouldn't cough up spying secrets, says German attorney general

German attorney general (Generalbundesanwalt) Harald Range has dropped the investigation into spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel because the allegation could not be proved by “legally watertight means.”

In October 2013, media reports suggested that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had snooped on Mutti’s phone. Range said although this has been “viewed by the public as proof of an actual interception of the mobile phone of the Chancellor”, the attorney general lacked solid proof of any wrongdoing.

Documents leaked by uber-whistleblower Edward Snowden “contain no solid court evidence of monitoring”, he said, adding that efforts to obtain evidence from the NSA had failed. “There are no further investigative leads,” Range said.

The investigation foundered due to the fact that the Snowden documents were the only evidence the Germans had and they do not constitute real proof, as their origins cannot be proven.

Range wanted to get hold of the information directly from the NSA, but the US unsurprisingly wouldn't play ball. Without this cooperation, the investigation was forced to give up, with a shrug from the German attorney general and the question "what can you do?"

According to a White House news release in 2013, the NSA “is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of chancellor Merkel”. The ominous failure to mention whether monitoring had happened in the past was not lost on the Germans, but Range said, yet again, this did not constitute evidence.

Shortly after the NSA revelations, it was reported that Merkel's phone was in fact being eavesdropped on not just by the US, but by virtually everybody with access to a phone. The recent German investigation concentrated only on possible US interceptions, however. ®

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