Angela Merkel PC compromised by Russian hackers
Chancellor Merkel had reacted strongly after the initial revelations and told US president Barack Obama that “spying between friends just isn’t on”. The latest release from WikiLeaks shows many of her ministers were spied on by the NSA. Getty

The latest release from WikiLeaks shows that a massive espionage by the US National Security Agency was not limited to Chancellor Angela Merkel but also included several of her ministers, according to phone numbers shared with German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Classified as highly sensitive, being "two levels above top secret," the data was still cleared for distribution among the "US-led 'Five Eyes' spying alliance of UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In fact, the latest list shows the spying focused more on economy issues, rather than on security, with the snooping checking on the German stance on Greek bailout plan, amongst other issues.

Most of the telephone numbers belong to the finance and agriculture ministry, and those responsible for European policy, besides a few economic advisors.

Another key aspect of the exposed espionage deals with the handling of the Greek debt crisis, as revealed in "intercepted talk between Chancellor Merkel and her assistant". The NSA was given a German intercept, gathered by British Intelligence (GCHQ), on the German position ahead of negotiations about a bailout plan for Greece.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' embattled editor-in-chief, asked in a statement in Wednesday's release, "Would France and Germany have proceeded with the BRICS bailout plan for Greece if this intelligence was not collected and passed to the United States - who must have been horrified at the geopolitical implications?"

The list of 69 phone numbers belonging to ministers and senior officials dates back to between 2010 and 2012.

Some numbers are still active after the ministers quit office. One such was former finance minister Oskar Lafontaine, who quit in 1999.

Current economy minister and vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, was among those spied, but he had been in the opposition at that time.

The NSA was also interested in Merkel's discussions of the positions of French leaders, and of the heads of the key institutions of the Troika: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and IMF Director Christine Lagarde with regard to the Greece bailout, says the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Merkel had reacted strongly after the initial revelations and told US President Barack Obama that "spying between friends just isn't on".