The US intelligence chief has fought back against claims that the US was allegedly tapping the phones of EU citizens and leaders, including Angela Merkel.
In a snap hearing in the US Congress on Tuesday, General Keith Alexander said that the US had not collected information on European citizens, hinting that it was EU governments who handed over the data.
“Data was provided to NSA by foreign partners”, Alexander said.
The defense comes after EU Justice Commissioner Vivianne Reding urged the US to ‘take clear action to rebuild trust’.
Also speaking from Washington on Tuesday, Reding said that recent events could ‘derail’ the free trade talks between both partners and warned against including data protection in the discussion.
When asked to comment on whether EU countries had been sending gathered data to the US, the European Commission said on Tuesday that ‘spying issues’ are a member state competence.
Meanwhile, a delegation of MEPs is currently in Washington to gather information for its inquiry into the mass surveillance scandal.