Turkey has summoned the top US diplomat in Ankara. Over the weekend, Germany’s Spiegel reported that the United States had spied on its NATO ally.
On Monday, Turkish officials announced that they had summoned the US charge d'affaires in Ankara to demand an explanation after the Spiegel newsmagazine reported that the United States had spied intensively on the country since 2006. According to Spiegel, the US partnered extensively with Britain to surveil Turkey's leadership. The German weekly reported that the information came from documents released by the fugitive former National Security Agency (NSA) operative Edward Snowden, who has taken asylum in Russia.
"The US charge d'affaires has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry to demand an explanation," Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters in Ankara in televised comments on Monday. The United States does not currently have an ambassador to Turkey as the Senate has held up the confirmation of nominee John Bass, formerly the top US diplomat in Georgia.
Snowden's supporters in Germany have sought to see the whistleblower's efforts rewarded with asylum status.
Over the weekend, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA began a major surveillance operation aimed at hacking into the computers of Turkey's leadership in 2006. Agency officials had hoped to glean information about the strategic intentions of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Thursday became president. According to Spiegel, the United States also spied on Turkey's embassy in Washington and its mission at the United Nations in New York.
The NSA placed "Turkey at the level of Venezuela, and even ahead of Cuba, in terms of US interest in intelligence collection," Spiegel reported.
Earlier in August, Spiegel reported that Germany had spied on Turkey for decades.
mkg/slk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)