ALLEGATIONS of US spying in Germany and Europe have hit Berlin’s relations with Washington, Chancellor Angela Merkel warns, as she attempts to stop the scandal from derailing her bid for re-election in September.
“Germany is not a police state. Germany is a land of freedom,” Merkel said on Friday at her annual press conference, where she faced a barrage of questions about the claims over US communications surveillance.
“A friendship is founded on trust and in this case trust has been affected,” she said, warning about the threat posed to Germany’s relations with the United States by the allegations.
Until now, the claims of US spying have failed to dent Merkel’s commanding lead in opinion polls.
But government officials are concerned that the publication of more damaging revelations could set back the chancellor’s hopes of securing a third term in the September 22 election.
A survey published Friday on by the Infratest dimap pollsters showed two-thirds of Germans are unhappy with her government’s handling of the claims.
This follows disclosures, believed to be from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, detailing how the US National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on allied governments and their citizens through the so-called PRISM program.
“German law on German soil”, Merkel insisted.
She indicated that the key focus of the investigation into the allegations by several authorities in Berlin would be on whether any German laws had been broken by international intelligence agencies operating in Germany.
The chancellor also said her government’s investigation into US surveillance activities in Germany would take some time to finish.
“The work is not complete,” she said. “It is ongoing.”
Her press conference coincided with a warning from Snowden’s associates that new claims could be published shortly.