The German weekly Der Spiegel recently reported that the NSA worked closely with German spies in a move which prompted the German opposition to press Merkel on how much she knew about US surveillance tactics.
“For decades, intelligence services have been working together under certain conditions that are tightly regulated in our country, and this serves our security,” Merkel said Wednesday in an interview with the weekly Die Zeit, adding that a certain level of cooperation was required to guarantee the security of German citizens.
She further told the German weekly that although the balance between privacy and security must be discussed, it is impossible to provide protection against terrorism without the option of electronic surveillance.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is due to meet US President Barack Obama’s adviser on homeland security and the US justice minister on Thursday to discuss the issue of US spying.
“I would like to make clear to our American partners how important it is to ensure things are proportionate in terms of the personal rights of our citizens,” Friedrich stated.
Berlin has also asked for explanations about revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of extensive spying by the NSA and by the UK on several countries including Germany and other EU nations.
Merkel’s office coordinates intelligence agencies in Germany that are also supervised by a parliamentary committee whose discussions are secret.
Germany’s domestic spy agency has said it was unaware of Washington and London’s widespread eavesdropping.
However, the opposition maintains that the German chancellor or her chief of staff Ronald Pofalla, who coordinates the secret services, must have known more about their large-scale spying.
Snowden has revealed to the news media details of secret surveillance programs under which US spy agencies collect massive amounts of data on people’s communications via telephone and the Internet.
The fugitive leaker has also revealed that the NSA spies on European Union offices in New York, Washington and Brussels.