BERLIN - German legislators and media voiced outrage Thursday at news the US may have spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, but anger also turned against her government for having played down the broader eavesdropping scandal.
The conservative daily Die Welt called the alleged snooping a "diplomatic bomb" and "a punch in the face of German security agencies", while a Sueddeutsche Zeitung headline labelled it "the worst imaginable insult" in a play of words on worst-case scenario.
Politicians across party lines condemned a betrayal of trust between decades-old allies, echoing the sharp rebuke Merkel delivered in a phone call to US President Barack Obama the previous day.
If confirmed, the snooping would be "an outrageous act" that "reaches a new level" and would be "roundly condemned", said the chief whip of Merkel's conservatives, Michael Grosse-Broemer.
The leader of the far-left Linke party, Gregor Gysi, found sharper words, saying the "insolent actions of the USA must be stopped" and that the US "is not a power that owns the world".
The Greens party sharply attacked Merkel's government for having declared the National Security Agency (NSA) spying affair - centred on the surveillance of millions of citizens' phone calls, emails, chats and other communications - effectively over several months ago.
"It's scandalous that the government appeased and obscured throughout the entire NSA affair, but that now, when it comes to confidentiality of communications of the chancellor, Merkel voices personal indignation in a phone call to the American president," Greens lawmaker Konstantin von Notz told the Handelsblatt daily's website.
Die Welt daily also recalled how little Merkel did when it was citizens, not herself, who were being spied on, according to the claims of fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
"The federal republic did not call in the ambassador, Merkel did not pick up the phone when it became apparent that foreign agencies like the NSA or Britain's GCHQ spied massively on Internet users' data," it said.
"It apparently had to come to this, the chancellor's mobile phone becoming a target," it said. "Now we're seeing the protest that was missing when the population was being spied on."