German Chancellor Angela Merkel found a hidden microphone in a caviar appetizer today during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
According to local press reports, Merkel interrupted a ceremonial dinner in Berlin after she discovered that a salmon caviar blini she intended to eat was wiretapped by the NSA, an American spy agency.
Merkel immediately ordered all of the other guests out of the room and confronted Obama about the microphone. The president admitted that his agents had placed the device and apologized profusely before resuming the dinner.
“She was about to bite into the blini when she realized one of the eggs was beeping,” says one guest at the event. “I guess it was supposed to record her after Obama had gone.
“I think the Americans were counting on her not liking fish eggs, but it turns out she loves them. You’d think a spy agency would have known that.”
Ich Bin Nicht Ein Ei
The United States has been criticized in recent weeks for its use of top secret surveillance programs designed to monitor terrorists.
According to a leak from a government contractor, the NSA has been extensively looking at phone records and Internet usage data under warrants from a secret intelligence court.
Although the agency maintains that its methods have prevented countless terror attacks, critics – including Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky – say that the NSA program goes too far and threatens privacy.
Those critics are even more numerous abroad, especially among European allies who resent such tactics being used against their citizens.
The caviar spying incident could negatively affect the U.S.-German relationship at a time when Berlin’s economic power within the European Union makes it as indispensable as ever.
“I think Merkel will be very angry about this for some time,” explains Ian Fleming, a London-based global security analyst. “It goes to the core of German fears of the surveillance state and her own experience growing up in East Germany.”
A spokesperson for the White House says it has no comment on the matter.