21:00 GMT +305 December 2019
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    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (second left, background) and German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder

    Kremlin Aware of NSA Spying on Gerhard Schroeder Over Friendship With Putin

    © Sputnik / Aleksey Nikolskyi
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    Russian leadership knew that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on Germany's former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Sunday, German tabloid Bild cited US intelligence sources saying Schroeder had been on NSA’s list of spying targets even after stepping down in 2005.

    According to the outlet, Schroeder’s friendly ties with Putin made him a target for the NSA to continue surveillance hoping that it might open access to the Russian president and his inner circle.

    "This has long been known," Peskov told journalists in a comment on Bild’s report that by spying on Schroeder the NSA hoped to learn more about Putin’s plans.

    Schroeder’s position as head of the shareholders committee at Russia’s Nord Stream project contributed to NSA’s continued interest. The Nord Stream pipeline moves Russian natural gas to Germany. A majority of its shares are owned by the Russian state-run Gazprom company.

    According to the German paper, NSA agents kept tabs on Schroeder to also get at Matthias Warnig, managing director at Nord Stream AG.

    Schroeder and Putin remained friends even amid strained relations between Russia and the West following the start of the Ukraine crisis last year.

    In spring 2014, Schroeder, who was German chancellor in 1998-2005, celebrated his birthday in Russia’s city of St. Petersburg together with the Russian leader.

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    Tags:
    espionage, National Security Agency (NSA), Gerhard Schroder, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin, Germany, United States, Russia
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