Hillary Clinton criticized the National Security Agency (NSA) for spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, calling it “absolutely wrong” in an interview with German media outlet Spiegel published Tuesday.
Former government contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed in October that Merkel’s phone calls were intercepted by the NSA, damaging diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Germany.
Tensions have only escalated in the wake of a new spying scandal this week. Germany is currently in an uproar over reports a German intelligence service accused of spying was working for the United States. Merkel has said it will be a “serious case” if the recent spying allegations were true.
Clinton did not comment on the current controversy, saying an investigation was underway and she only knew what she read.
“But clearly, we have to do a much better job in working together between Germany and the United States to sort out what the appropriate lines of cooperation are on intelligence and security,” Clinton told Spiegel. “I think the cooperation is necessary for our security, but we don’t want to undermine it by raising doubts again and again.”
Clinton declined to comment on whether or not she thought it was “taboo” for the U.S. to acquire a source within the German intelligence service. She emphasized the U.S. could not enter a no-spy agreement with any country, including Germany. The Obama administration dismissed requests for such an agreement after the revelation last fall about the NSA’s surveillance practices.
Clinton was also asked if Merkel deserved an apology, and sidestepped the question, saying Merkel and President Barack Obama have “had numerous talks.” When pressed, she said she was sorry, but noted she was no longer in government.
Clinton was traveling in Germany on her “Hard Choices” book tour, which many view as an opportunity for the former secretary of state to test the waters for a presidential bid in 2016.