01:16 GMT04 March 2021
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    The US National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on the German Foreign Minister and other top government targets dating back to before the 9/11 era, according to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

    The site on Monday published what it says is a confidential report detailing a conversation German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had in 2005, following his first official trip to Washington.

    According to the report, Steinmeier said he was relieved that talks with his then counterpart, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, did not touch on the CIA’s controversial rendition program, in which suspected terrorists were flown to third-party countries to be tortured and interrogated.

    The intercepted communication reads, in part:

    "Frank-Walter Steinmeier seemed pleased on 29 November with the results of his first visit to Washington as the new German Foreign Minister. Steinmeier described the mood during his talks with US officials as very good, but feared that the most difficult part was still ahead. He seemed relieved that he had not received any definitive response from the US Secretary of State regarding press reports of CIA flights through Germany to secret prisons in eastern Europe allegedly used for interrogating terrorism suspects."

    Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said:

    "Today's publication indicates that the NSA has been used to help the CIA kidnap and torture with impunity. For years the CIA was systematically abducting and torturing people, with the tacit complicity of European governments.

    "In 2005 German Foreign Minister Steinmeier was thrilled that his tactic of asking Condoleezza Rice no hard questions about CIA renditions had worked. The US said nothing that would require him to do anything. And how do we know about it? Because the National Security Agency was gloating to the US senior executive about intercepting this cowardly display. Nobody comes out of this looking good."

    Steinmeier is among a number of top German government officials who had their phones tapped by the NSA. Of the 20 phone numbers, some are for offices in Bonn, Germany, and targeting Joschka Fischer, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2005.


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    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), NSA spying, NSA, WikiLeaks, Condoleezza Rice, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Julian Assange, Germany, US
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