German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the list of words provided by America's National Security Agency (NSA) will not be published for the time being. Pressure is mounting on the "untouchable" leader.
In an interview first broadcast by Radio Bremen on Tuesday evening, Merkel said Germany was "in consultation" with the US over the alleged disclosure of German secrets to the US.
"Only after that can we make the decisions," Merkel said. Until then, the German parliament's NSA investigative committee would be provided with "many other documents."
"We have a need for clarification," the chancellor said of German intelligence service scandal.
Willing to testify
Merkel's comments came amid the latest claims that Germany's intelligence agency illegally assisted the US in spying on politicians and companies in Europe.
The chancellor has repeatedly defended the work of the BND, however, saying in Tuesday's radio interview that "when necessary, [she] would testify and answer questions" before the parliamentary committee.
Saturday's claims are just the latest in a string of allegations that have traced back links between the NSA and BND to 2002, when a German-US intelligence cooperation deal was sealed in a Memorandum of Agreement.
"Spying between friends is unacceptable," Merkel said in October 2013, when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US had bugged her phone.
In Tuesday's interview, however, Merkel said her words represented an "ambitious goal."
Austria files suit over suspicions
Earlier on Tuesday, the Austrian government lodged a legal complaint against the BND over the latest claims, with Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner demanding clarification.
"Today we have filed a legal complaint with the prosecutor's office against an unknown entity due to secret intelligence services to Austria's disadvantage," Mikl-Leitner confirmed.
Merkel's coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), have also been upping the pressure on her office this week with deputy chairman Ralf Stegner calling for the chancellor to "enlighten [us]."
"The game of keeping the latest findings at a distance and saying they have nothing to do with her is up," Stegner told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung."
German Economy Minister and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel also warned on Monday that if it turned out that Germany had had a hand in helping the US snoop on companies, it "would be a big strain on the faith of the [German] economy in governmental behavior."
Analysts called the comment a clever maneuver by Gabriel, as the junior partners in Germany's governing coalition continue to lag far behind Merkel's conservative CDU in the polls.
ksb/bk (dpa, AFP, Reuters)