The report was partly based on the ongoing series of revelations of US eavesdropping leaked by Snowden.
Many European countries had so far been muted about revelations of the wide net cast by US surveillance programs aimed at preventing terrorist attacks, but their reaction to the latest reports indicate Washington’s allies are unlikely to let the matter drop without at least a strong show of outrage.
Obama maintained that all nations in the world with intelligence services try to understand what other nations are thinking. He added the US is still evaluating the Spiegel report, adding that the US will provide all the information European allies are requesting.
French President Francois Hollande demanded that the US immediately stop the alleged eavesdropping and suggested that the widening surveillance scandal could derail negotiations for a free-trade deal potentially worth billions.
‘‘We cannot accept this kind of behavior from partners and allies,’’ Hollande said on French television on Monday.
In a sign of the distrust the report had sowed, the German government launched a review of its secure government communications network and the EU’s executive, the European Commission, ordered ‘‘a comprehensive ad hoc security sweep.’’
‘‘Eavesdropping on friends is unacceptable,’’ German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin. ‘‘We’re not in the Cold War anymore.’’
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he didn’t know the details of the allegations, but tried to downplay them, maintaining that many nations undertake various activities to protect their national interests. He failed to quell the outrage from allies, including France, Germany and Italy.
It’s unclear how widespread similar practices actually are. But some in Europe have raised concerns that US efforts include economic espionage. When asked whether Germany spies on its allies, Seibert responded: ‘‘It’s not the policy of the German government to eavesdrop on friendly states in their embassies. That should be obvious.’’
According to Der Spiegel’s report, the NSA planted bugs in the EU’s diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated the building’s computer network. Similar measures were taken at the EU’s mission to the United Nations in New York, the magazine said.
It also reported that the NSA used secure facilities at NATO headquarters in Brussels to dial into telephone maintenance systems that would have allowed it to intercept senior officials’ calls and Internet traffic at a key EU office nearby.
AP correspondents Sarah DiLorenzo in Paris, Frank Jordans and Geir Moulson in Berlin, Elena Becatoros in Athens, Raf Casert in Brussels, Deb Riechmann in Brunei, Nicole Winfield in Rome, Julie Pace in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Matthew Lee and Lara Jakes in Washington contributed to this report.