• Germany edition
 
'The USA knows that for us spying is a crime'
Obama with Merkel in Berlin on June 19th 2013. There has been a mixed reaction in Germany to his speech over the NSA's future. Photo: DPA

'The USA knows that for us spying is a crime'

Published: 20 Jan 2014 12:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2014 12:31 GMT+01:00

Parliamentary chairman of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) Thomas Oppermann said on Monday: “A 'no spy' treaty must come. Obama’s speech on Friday can only be the beginning. The USA knows that spying for us is a crime.”

“The German justice system will not stand idly by if the efforts of the NSA blithely continue here,” he told Bild newspaper on Monday.

Magazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday that the Federal Attorney General, Harald Range, told the country’s Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, that there were grounds for a criminal investigation into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone by the US National Securtiy Agency (NSA).

And it appears the Minister of Justice, who is authorized to give orders to the Federal Attorney General, would not block an investigation. A spokeswoman for the Ministry confirmed on Sunday: "The Federal Prosecutor decides completely independently."

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Parliament, Norbert Röttgen, also criticized Obama’s speech but said he wanted to avoid harming the German-US relationship further.

 “I have one criticism. Are secret services allowed to do anything that is technically possible? Obama basically affirmed this was the case,” he told broadcaster ZDF.

“We have a real problem, but I’m against an escalation,” the politician from Merkel’s CDU party added.

Meanwhile interior minister Thomas de Mazière welcomed Obama’s reforms in an interview on Sunday with television channel ARD. "It was a good and important speech and we welcome the progress," he said.

And Germany’s media greeted Obama’s statement with a mixture of hope and disdain.

The Berliner Morgenpost wrote: “Finally the American President seems to have grasped the extent of the breach of trust caused by the mass spying of his intelligence services.

“He has declared he will reduce the massive collection of data both at home and abroad and that heads of state and government will now be allowed to have a phone conversation undisturbed, but on the condition that the national security of the USA does not require [listening in].

“That leaves many questions wide open…The speech on Friday was, so far, little more than a glimmer of hope.”

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel asked: “What will change for non-Americans? They should rest assured that their rights will be better protected, says Obama. But who will guarantee that – and who will check it?

“The White House will in future determine which governments should be monitored, not the NSA. But there will be no end to the practice of spying itself. In all, Obama has disappointed the expectations of many Germans. That should not surprise us. He is the President of Americans and they think differently and carry on using the, from their perspective, traditional methods, indifferent to outrage abroad.”

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said: “It is evidently not the case that the US President does not care about the international outcry over the spying of the secret service the NSA and the criticism from his own country – regardless of which he takes the most seriously.

“The big surveillance net will no longer simply be swung across the land, the population and the world, as long as Congress passes the proposals. This will not be enough for civil rights organizations, but it is more than was expected. And it is sure to annoy the secret services.”

Volksstimme Magdeburg said: “At first sight, it seemed as if US President Obama would get through to his intelligence services, after the outrageous revelations on surveillance practices of his intelligence services.

“He would stop the huge collection of communicative data, the private sphere and the civil rights of all people should be better protected. And Obama is even expressly banning his secret services from spying on heads of government.

“But on a closer examination, Obama’s speech turns out to be a placebo for his critics, the effects of which will not last for long. When it comes to a matter of national security, the intelligence services are allowed to continue spying…Obama points out, quite reasonably, that surveillance must be permitted to prevent acts of terrorism. And yet it was under just this cloak that the mass collection of the NSA first started.”

READ MORE: Obama tells Merkel to not worry about spying

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper
Markus Rehm. Photo: DPA

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper

German athletics officials said on Wednesday they would not nominate the country's long jump champion Markus Rehm for the European championships because of fears his prosthetic leg gives him an unfair advantage. READ  

Second man arrested after synagogue attack
The synagogue on Tuesday after the attack. Photo: DPA

Second man arrested after synagogue attack

Police arrested a second suspect on Wednesday in connection with an attempted arson attack in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in western Germany. Another man who said he was Palestinian has denied involvement. READ  

German women fall short of equality
Still a man's world: women in Germany find it hard to rise as high as Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

German women fall short of equality

Women in Germany are still underrepresented in leadership jobs and among professors, a new government report said on Wednesday. They are also paid less and remain unlikely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest

With just over 50 days to go until Munich's Oktoberfest starts, it is time to book your train/plane/horse to the world’s biggest beer festival. Or is it? The Local List looks at five reasons you should be making that trip, and five why you'd better steer clear. READ  

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Photo: DPA

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is among the club's staff and players who could not join a week-long tour to the USA on Wednesday because of visa problems. READ  

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite
German actress Renater Küster with a statue of her late husband Dieter Hildebrandt. Photo: DPA

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite

The Social Democrats (SPD) accidentally invited a dead TV star to attend its summer party. It got a shock when the veteran presenter replied saying, "I can't make it". READ  

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'
The digger tipped over. Photo: DPA

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'

A father died and five of his friends were injured on Tuesday night in western Germany when a digger fell on top of them during a so-called Cold Water Challenge. READ  

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Raisting crop circle. Photo: DPA

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds

A mysterious crop circle in Bavaria has attracted thousands of visitors since it was spotted in a wheat field last week. READ  

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria
Photo: DPA

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria

A ten-year-old girl and her 21-year-old brother were killed overnight in a road accident on the A1 motorway in Upper Austria, caused by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road. READ  

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'
Merkel warned further sanctions could be imposed against Russia. Photo: DPA

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'

Strong sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis were “inevitable”, Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed on Tuesday night, despite Germany's initial reluctance to get tough on President Vladimir Putin. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,261
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd