As world leaders catch word that the NSA was spying on them, criticism against the agency’s secret surveillance programs has reached fever pitch.
French President Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel are calling for new rules for international intelligence and spying, the Guardian reports, amid an EU summit in Berlin. The news follows yesterday’s bombshell report (also in the Guardian) that more documents leaked by former analyst Edward Snowden show the NSA monitored calls from 35 world leaders over the past decade.
The pair “stressed that intelligence-gathering is a vital element in the fight against terrorism,” according to a statement from Merkel and other European leaders. “A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary co-operation in the field of intelligence-gathering.”
The comments come after a week of increasingly damaging news for the NSA, including reports that it spied on French citizens, and on Merkel’s personal cellphone. Yesterday’s news that the NSA reportedly called upon “customer” U.S. government departments, like the White House and the Pentagon, to share their contact information was likely the last straw for the European Leaders. That report claimed one U.S. official gave up 200 numbers, including the information for 35 unnamed world leaders.
Spying on citizens is one thing, but leaders who learn that the NSA actually spied on them could become even more vocal critics against the agency’s tactics. Merkel, who reportedly discovered the NSA’s surveillance on her after finding her phone number in a U.S. document, discussed the issue with President Obama in a phone call on Wednesday. According to the Guardian, she also helped to spearhead the surveillance discussions at yesterday’s EU summit.
In other NSA related news, Snowden issued a statement yesterday claiming that the agency also monitors every Internet transaction in the U.S.