Tapping the German Chancellor's Cell Phone and Public International Law

Bonn Research Papers on Public International Law No 3A/2013

7 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2013

See all articles by Stefan A. G. Talmon

Stefan A. G. Talmon

University of Bonn, Institute of Public International Law

Date Written: November 11, 2013

Abstract

Die deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie unter: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2347941 "Das Abhören des Kanzlerhandys und das Völkerrecht"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been outraged over allegations that the NSA monitored her personal cell phone. This brief paper examines whether the United States violated any rules of public international law when tapping the Chancellor's cell phone. It concludes that tapping a foreign leader's cell phone constitutes an act of espionage in peacetime and as such is generally lawful under international law unless conduced from embassy premises or military bases in the territory of the foreign leader's State. The paper questions whether the conclusion of so-called "no spy agreements" is either practical or expedient and cautions against the conclusion of such agreements even among "friends".

Keywords: Espionage, international law, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, No Spy Agreements, German-US Spy Row

JEL Classification: None

Suggested Citation

Talmon, Stefan A. G., Tapping the German Chancellor's Cell Phone and Public International Law (November 11, 2013). Bonn Research Papers on Public International Law No 3A/2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2352834

Stefan A. G. Talmon (Contact Author)

University of Bonn, Institute of Public International Law ( email )

Adenauerallee 24-42
D-53113 Bonn
Germany

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