Obama's Present-Tense Denial About Angela Merkel's Cell Phone

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 23 2013 2:36 PM

Obama's Present-Tense Denial About Angela Merkel's Cell Phone

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Can you hear me now?

Photo by Kirill Kudryavstev/AFP/Getty Images

If this keeps up pretty soon the world leaders who aren't allegedly being monitored are going to start feeling left out, via Reuters:

The German government has obtained information that the United States may have monitored the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel and she called President Barack Obama on Wednesday to demand an immediate clarification, a German government spokesman said.
"We swiftly sent a request to our American partners asking for an immediate and comprehensive clarification," the spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. He added that Merkel had made clear to Obama that if the information proved trued it would be "completely unacceptable" and represent a "grave breach of trust".
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According to a White House readout of the call between the two leaders, Obama "assured" the the German chancellor that "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor" her communications—a denial the government didn't offer to Mexico after a Snowden-fueled leak suggested over the weekend that America has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. Then again, the noticeably present-tense denial offered to Merkel may just mean that the NSA isn't listening in on her calls anymore.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.