Calls made by US secretary of state John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton were “accidentally” intercepted by German intelligence agencies, Der Spiegel reports. The Bundesnachrichtdienst (BND), the German intelligence service, snooped on a satellite phone conversation that Kerry made in 2013, a year after it intercepted a call between Clinton and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in 2012.
None of the three were targets of surveillance but their conversations were intercepted anyway: in Clinton’s case this was because the call she was making was on the same “frequency” as a terror suspect.
Turkey – a fellow member of NATO – was named as a target for German intelligence gathering in a leaked BND document dating from 2009 and obtained by Der Spiegel. A BND spokeswoman told Reuters that Germany was not tapping the phones of allied countries. She also sought to downplay suggestions that US politicians had become the target of surveillance as a reprisal for the much publicised snooping on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone by the NSA and others. “Any accidental recordings are deleted immediately,” she said.
Turkey’s foreign ministry has reportedly summoned the German ambassador for a meeting without coffee, while the US has kept a diplomatic silence over the latest snooping revelations.
The calls by Kerry and Clinton were brought to attention of top BND officials by the department which intercepted them. It was decided to delete the data but apparently this task was given to Markus R., who later turned out to be a CIA double agent.
The mole also leaked a document defining the BND target countries for spying to the CIA. This included Turkey and was made public after Der Spiegel managed to get a hold of the leaked information. Presumably as part of the investigation into the double agent case.