Barack Obama acknowledges damage from NSA eavesdropping on Angela Merkel

WAHINGTON DC(AFP): US President Barack Obama said on Monday that revelations of US surveillance on German Chancellor Angela Merkel “damaged impressions” Germans hold of the US government.

Obama said during a joint news conference with Merkel at the White House that he has worked to restore the confidence of Germany and other global partners since former US contractor Edward Snowden began leaking documents detailing the spying operations of the US National Security Agency in 2013.

Snowden revealed that the intelligence agency had been eavesdropping on Merkel’s phone calls as far back as 2010. “There is no doubt that the Snowden revelations damaged impressions of Germans with respect to the US government and our intelligence cooperation,” Obama said.

Obama said he has been working to review such policies and create greater transparency.

Merkel did not take the opportunity to criticize US surveillance, and applauded the US intelligence agencies for their coordination with Germany in combating security threats. “The institutions of the United States of America still continue to provide us with a lot of very significant information and we don’t want to do without this,” Merkel said through an English translator.

Obama said he thought Germans should give the United States the “benefit of the doubt” in light of the two countries’ recent history of cooperation.