After the embarrassment faced by the Barack Obama administration over the disclosure that the National Security Agency had been monitoring the phone conversations of at least 35 world leaders, including that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it is now the turn of the David Cameron administration to turn red-faced over similar revelations.
An investigation by The Independent, based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, revealed that the U.K. is operating an “intercept nest” or a secret listening post from the roof of its Embassy in Berlin, which is situated very close to the German Parliament and Ms. Merkel’s offices.
Following the furore that broke out in the German media — “Et Tu, UK? Anger grows over British spying in Berlin” is the headline in Spiegel Online — the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called in Simon McDonald, British Ambassador to Germany, for an explanation on the spying claims.
It was only recently that Mr. Westerwelle had asked the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin for an explanation following the revelations that a similar listening post from the top of the U.S. embassy was intercepting Ms. Merkel’s mobile phone calls.
Aerial photographs of the British embassy in Berlin show the listening base inside a “white, cylindrical tent-like structure which cannot be easily seen from the streets,” The Independent says.
The British Foreign Office has not commented on the disclosure, but this incident is likely to put a further strain on relations with Germany.