The National Security Agency tapped the mobile phone of Germany's ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his opposition to the U.S.-led war on Iraq, German media reported Tuesday.
According to a joint report by Süddeutsche Zeitung daily and regional public broadcaster NDR, the surveillance of Angela Merkel's predecessor began in 2002, with his name being number 388 on a list of people whose communications should be surveilled.
"We had reason to presume that [Schroeder] was not contributing to the success of the alliance," Süddeutsche quotes an unnamed source as saying.
Schroeder, a Social Democrat, held office from 1998 until 2005, with his second term beginning in 2002.
He was s staunch opponent of the Iraq war, saying at the beginning of his second election campaign that his country would not be providing troops for what he called an "adventure."
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"My arguments against military intervention remain, and it is clear that under my leadership, Germany will not participate in military action," Schroeder added during campaign appearances.
Then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered his thoughts on Schroeder's reelection, saying, "the way [the election] was conducted was notably unhelpful, and as the White House indicated, has had the effect of poisoning the [U.S.-German] relationship."
Responding to the revelations on Tuesday, Schroeder said, "I would never have imagined that I was being bugged by American services then, but now I am no longer surprised."
The news is likely to contribute to already strained relations between the two counties. In October of last year Der Spiegel revealed that the NSA may have been spying on the mobile phone of Chancellor Merkel, sparking outrage in Berlin.