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Merkel urges ‘patience’ over NSA surveillance

Two months before national elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel found herself besieged by questions about US spying, insisting Friday that she has not been remiss in confronting the Americans about their surveillance activities.

The chancellor’s traditional 1-hour summer news conference was dominated by questions about National Security Agency snooping, including allegations by NSA leaker Edward Snowden that the US has been spying on its European allies.
Merkel’s opponents in the 22 September parliamentary elections have seized on the issue, asserting that she has not done enough to protect Germans’ privacy.

Although polls show Merkel with a comfortable lead, the issue has created turbulence in what had looked like a smooth glide to a third term as chancellor.
Protecting personal data is an especially sensitive topic in Germany because of abuses by communist East Germany’s secret police, theStasi, and the Nazis’ Gestapo.

Merkel insisted her government is awaiting answers from the US to detailed questions about the NSA’s activities and hopes to receive them ‘as soon as possible’ — but with no specific deadline.
‘I have to take note that our American partners need time for the examination ... It wouldn’t help to have an answer that would later turn out not to be truthful,’ she said. ‘So I prefer to wait.’

Still, she insisted that her government was not trying to stall until Germany’s elections are over, insisting that ‘22 September is not a date that I am trying to get past.’

Last week, Merkel sent her interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, to Washington to confer with top US officials over the pressing issue of US-driven global surveillance.   
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