Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper has reportedly claimed that the US intelligence has stepped up eavesdropping on prominent figures, including a government minister, after Chancellor Angela Merkel was dropped as a direct target.
According to the Huffington Post, the newspaper revealed that the US National Security Agency ( NSA) was monitoring 320 political and business leaders in Germany, including Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed high-ranking US intelligence employee in Germany saying that they had the order not to allow any loss of information whatsoever after the communication of the chancellor no longer being able to be directly monitored.
The claims are latest in the series of revelations that trickled after the mega exposé by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the alleged mass surveillance operations.
Soon after the revelation came forward that Merkel's phone was being snooped on since 2011, US President Barack Obama acknowledged it as a mistake and assured the lady that eavesdropping on her phone won't be conducted.
Bild also quoted US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden as saying that the administration had made clear the US gathers the same kind of intelligence as all advanced nations, the report added.