President Barack Obama asked Germans to give the United States the “benefit of the doubt” when it comes to snooping by the National Security Agency.
In a Monday joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel held at the White House on Monday, Obama said he recognizes “the sensitivities around this issue.”
In October 2013, German media reported that Merkel had “strong suspicions” that her personal cellphone was being monitored by American authorities.
White House spokesman Jay Carney unequivocally told reporters at the time that such surveillance was not continuing, but he did not directly deny the allegations of past conduct. The next year, Germany decided not to renew its government contract with Verizon, citing concerns over spying by the National Security Agency.
Last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence made minor changes to its spying protocols, which many legal experts decried as mere window dressing.
On Monday, Obama added:For her part, Chancellor Merkel largely sidestepped the issue.
“I think there are still different assessments on individual issues there, but if we look at the sheer dimension of the terrorist threat, we are more than aware of the fact that we need to work together very closely,” she said, according to a White House transcript.