Germany’s federal prosecutor has defied public expectations by opening an investigation into the alleged tapping of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by the US’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Federal prosecutor Harald Range announced on Wednesday: “I informed parliament’s legal affairs committee that I have started a preliminary investigation over tapping of a mobile phone of the chancellor.”

Merkel had complained to Barack Obama in person about the alleged tapping of her phone last October, but the federal court’s investigation, which will be against unnamed persons, would constitute the first formal response to the affair. The German government has reportedly announced its support for the investigation.

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