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Report: German intelligence agency ‘accidentally’ eavesdropped on Kerry, Hillary Clinton

In this Aug. 12, 2014 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he speaks to the media during a press conference at the conclusion of the AUSMIN talks at Admiralty House in Sydney.

Dan Himbrechts/AP

Germany's foreign intelligence agency eavesdropped on calls made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

The respected news weekly reported that the agency, known by its German acronym BND, tapped a satellite phone conversation Kerry made in 2013 as part of its surveillance of telecommunications in the Middle East. The agency also recorded a conversation between Clinton and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan a year earlier, Der Spiegel claimed.

The magazine didn't give a source for its information, but said the calls were collected accidentally, that the three officials weren't directly targeted, and the recordings were ordered destroyed immediately. In Clinton's case, the call reportedly took place on the same "frequency" as a terror suspect, according to Der Spiegel.

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The tapping of Clinton's call was reported Friday by German public broadcaster ARD and Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

If true, the revelations would be embarrassing for the German government, which has spent months complaining to Washington about alleged American spy activity in Germany. Last year German media reports based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted a sharp rebuke from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was allegedly among the U.S. intelligence agency's targets.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin and the State Department in Washington declined to comment on the latest reports.

In its report Saturday, Der Spiegel also cited a confidential 2009 BND document listing fellow NATO member Turkey as a target for German intelligence gathering.

The Germany intelligence agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

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