It seems the art of espionage has reached such an advanced stage that the United States is able to eavesdrop on the telephone calls of the most powerful person in Europe.
9 November 2013 marks 24 years since the Berlin Wall came down, but spying is very much at the top of the international news agenda, what with the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden in the US, the phone-hacking trial in the UK, and allegations that German chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile was monitored by American intelligence authorities.
It's a long way from the days of the Cold War, when spying involved much more intimate surveillance activities and required a multitude of crafty gadgets and covert deception.
State surveillance is a highly sensitive subject in many European countries, especially Germany.
This is a country haunted by memories of eavesdropping by the Stasi secret police in the former communist state of East Germany, where Angela Merkel grew up.
Some of the Stasi's equipment is now in a museum in Berlin, as these recent pictures reveal.
This photograph shows a wristwatch fitted with secret recording equipment, allowing the wearer to tape short conversations without the knowledge of their companion.
Click or swipe through to see more of the ingenious and eccentric ways the world used to spy on itself