Merkel rival: suspend trade talks over NSA scandal

Merkel's rival demands suspension of trans-Atlantic trade talks with US over NSA scandal

Associated Press
Merkel rival: suspend trade talks over NSA scandal
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Candidate for chancellor of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and challenger of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Peer Steinbrueck speaks during the summer interview of broadcaster ARD in Berlin, Germany Sunday Aug. 25, 2013. In background the parliament building Reichstag. Federal elections are scheduled for Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/dpa,Rainer Jensen)

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's election challenger says he would suspend negotiations with the U.S. over a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement until Washington clarifies details about National Security Agency surveillance programs.

Social Democratic leader Peer Steinbrueck, who is running for chancellor Sept. 22, said Sunday on ARD public TV that "I would interrupt the negotiations until the Americans say if German government offices and European institutions are bugged or wiretapped."

He criticized Merkel's government for talking to Washington about a deal that would eliminate regulatory trade barriers between the EU and U.S., while at the same time "we don't know if the Americans may be sitting under our desks with some technical devices."

Germany's independent privacy watchdogs say the surveillance programs breach an EU-U.S. pact meant to ensure cross-border data protection.

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