German coalition at odds over US spy deal

The German government rejected suggestions it intentionally misled the public about the US’s willingness to negotiate a “no-spy” agreement between the countries.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s then-chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, said a few weeks before German elections in 2013 the two countries would start talks on an agreement not to spy on each other. The statement came after revelations by Edward Snowden about surveillance by the US National Security Agency.

However, a report by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and two broadcasters, based on email correspondence between the governments, suggested there was no firm indication at the time that the White House would contemplate such a deal.

Pofalla was untruthful “for the purposes of electoral tactics,” Torsten Schaefer-Guembel, a deputy leader of the center-left Social Democrats, the junior party in Merkel’s governing coalition, told Tagesspiegel.

Merkel yesterday reiterated her willingness to testify before a parliamentary panel that is looking into the NSA’s activities.

“I can only say that everyone worked according to their best knowledge and conscience — that goes for today’s chief of staff but also his predecessor,” Merkel told reporters.


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