Echoing unsubstantiated claims from failed American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there is “hard evidence” that Russian intelligence operatives hacked her email accounts.
Dr Merkel said that “cyber-disorientation, the distortion of facts” are all a part of “Russia’s strategy”, adding that: “unfortunately the conclusion I have reached is that this is not new.”
“I can honestly say that it pains me. Every day I try to build a better relationship with Russia and on the other hand there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are doing this,” Merkel told the German parliament.
Merkel’s statements follow a report from the German magazine Der Speigel, which cited anonymous sources within the government, claiming Russia’s GRU military intelligence service hacked the German leader’s emails in 2015.
The report said that a supposed Moscow-based hacker using the username “Scaramouche” had hacked into German Parliament email accounts, targeting two of Mrs Merkel’s accounts.
“According to estimates, a total of around 16 gigabytes of data flowed off. This may include thousands of emails from Merkel’s office,” the report claimed.
The report went on to admit, however, that what information the alleged hack had obtained “can no longer be determined with absolute certainty.”
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) January 18, 2019
The claim from Merkel is reminiscent of a previous scandal, in which the Obama administration was accused of spying on the German leader.
The 2013 NSA leaks from American whistleblower Edward Snowden, allegedly showed that the Obama administration was wiretapping the chancellor’s phone calls. A German newspaper later reported that Obama had personally signed off on the surveillance in 2010.
At the time of the allegations, the White House refused to say whether they had been spying on Dr Merkel, only saying that the NSA was not currently tapping her phone and wouldn’t do so in the future.
In response to the Snowden revelations, Merkel scolded President Obama, saying: “Spying among friends is not acceptable.”
President Obama later admitted that: “There is no doubt that the Snowden revelations damaged impressions of Germans with respect to the U.S. government and our intelligence cooperation.”
Germany dropped a criminal investigation into the matter in 2015, citing a lack of cooperation from the NSA.
In a 2017 joint press conference, President Donald Trump remarked that being spied on by the Obama administration was something he and Merkel had “in common”, referring to claims that his predecessor had surveilled Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said motioning to Merkel.
“Hope you had fun investigating me. Now it’s my turn," read a meme Trump retweeted. https://t.co/4YJskWdmqb
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 11, 2020
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