The German prosecutor investigating allegations that the National Security Agency spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone says he’s thus far been unable to uncover hard evidence that surveillance took place. The German magazine Spiegel first reported the allegations, citing a document apparently provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden:
This is suggested by a document that apparently comes from an NSA database in which the agency records its targets. This document, which SPIEGEL has seen, is what set the cellphone scandal in motion.
The document contains Merkel’s cellphone number. An inquiry to her team revealed that it is the number the chancellor uses mainly to communicate with party members, ministers and confidants, often by text message. The number is, in the language of the NSA, a “Selector Value.” The next two fields determine the format (“raw phone number”) and the “Subscriber,” identified as “GE Chancellor Merkel.”
Prosecutor Harald Range said this week, however, that the document in question is not an “authentic” order. From Reuters:
Harald Range launched an official investigation in June, believing there was enough preliminary evidence to show unknown U.S. intelligence officers had tapped the phone, although there was not enough clarity on the issue to bring charges.
On Wednesday he said however, “the document presented in public as proof of an actual tapping of the mobile phone is not an authentic surveillance order by the NSA. It does not come from the NSA database.
“There is no proof at the moment which could lead to charges that Chancellor Merkel’s phone connection data was collected or her calls tapped.”
Spiegel does not appear to have yet responded to Range’s statement.