Europe Erupts, Kerry Shrugs: Bugging Allies 'Not Unusual'

Germany warns: 'We are no longer in Cold War'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 1, 2013 6:48 AM CDT | Updated Jul 1, 2013 7:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – John Kerry has taken on Edward Snowden's latest claims—that the NSA has bugged EU offices and spied on computer networks. Though Kerry said he didn't know whether the assertions were true, he added, "All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations," the BBC reports. "Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security, and all kinds of information contributes to that." That's little consolation to European leaders who are reacting to the story, Reuters reports.

If it's true, "we will clearly say that bugging friends is unacceptable," says German chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman. "We are no longer in the Cold War." The Wall Street Journal notes that Merkel's government this morning summoned the US ambassador for clarification, while the BBC adds that French President Francois Hollande is demanding the US "immediately stop." Germany, according to der Spiegel, is among the most heavily watched by the NSA, while France and Italy face far less monitoring. Spiegel offers a table revealing the extent of the practice: An average day in December saw the agency taking metadata from 15 million phone connections and 10 million Internet data sets. "I was always sure that dictatorships, some authoritarian systems, tried to listen," says EU Parliament president Martin Schulz, per Reuters. "But that measures like that are now practiced by an ally, by a friend, that is shocking."

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about his trip to the Middle East during a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on Sunday, June 30, 2013.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about his trip to the Middle East during a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on Sunday, June 30, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
John Kerry arrives for a press conference at the ASEAN meeting in the International Conference Center in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Monday, July 1, 2013.
John Kerry arrives for a press conference at the ASEAN meeting in the International Conference Center in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Monday, July 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
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