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EU Officials Question Kerry On 'Unacceptable' Spying Claims

NPR icon by Bill Chappell
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Roslan Rahman

Secretary of State John Kerry is hearing from European allies who are upset with recent reports that the U.S. has spied on its friends. The European Union's top diplomat asked Kerry about the reports at a security conference Monday. Other officials say the case could derail talks on free trade.

Allegations that the U.S. had spied on EU offices in Washington, D.C., and New York emerged this weekend, after a report in Germany's Der Spiegel, which attributed the information to secret documents that had been leaked by National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden.

From Brussels, NPR's Teri Schultz filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton made clear to Secretary Kerry the bloc's concerns over allegations the U.S. has been spying on it. Kerry said he wasn't aware of the issue but would look into the claims and get back to Ashton.

"Meanwhile, new security sweeps are being conducted on EU buildings that were reportedly bugged in Brussels, Washington and New York.

"European governments are calling in U.S. ambassadors, says EU spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, to press home the message: 'Clarity and transparency is what we expect from our partners and allies and that is what we expect from the United States.'

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel says, 'Bugging friends is unacceptable.'

"French President Francois Hollande said if it is happening, the spying must stop immediately."

As The Two-Way reported Sunday, European Parliament President Martin Schulz issued a statement saying he is "deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices," and demanding "full clarification."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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