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EU parliament president demands answers on US spying allegations as Germany mulls formal investigation

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German officials have said that they may launch a probe to examine whether the United States' surveillance regime broke German laws. According to the Associated Press, the Federal Prosecutors' Office has said it is looking at claims that the NSA has routinely spied on communications of the Council of the European Union in Brussels and New York, and that German communications have beens particularly singled out and monitored. If the office is able to "achieve a reliable factual basis," it may open a formal investigation. Meanwhile, a spokesperson said, private citizens are likely to file individual complaints — and some politicians have lashed out harshly against the apparent spying.

"Comprehensive spying on Europeans by Americans cannot be allowed."

"If media reports are correct, then it is reminiscent of methods used by enemies during the Cold War," says German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger in a statement. "It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies. There has to finally be an immediate and comprehensive explanation from the US as to whether media reports about completely unacceptable surveillance measures of the US in the EU are true or not. Comprehensive spying on Europeans by Americans cannot be allowed."

Der Spiegel, which first leaked details of the US' European surveillance, has published a number of statements from German and other European sources who want a comprehensive look at American surveillance policy — and real consequences for the US. Some members of the European Parliament have called to suspend free trade negotiations with the US until it agrees to a comprehensive privacy agreement. So far, the White House, NSA, and Congress have all downplayed leaked information about surveillance programs, arguing that these programs are conducted with reasonable oversight and are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz said Saturday that he is "deeply worried and shocked" by the allegations. He noted that, should they be proved true, the revelation would have "a severe impact" on EU-US relations. He called for clarification from the US on its European operations, and asked that the US authorities reply "speedily" to his request.