EU: Expert says Denmark ‘helped US spy on European allies’
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Reports of NSA spying on American allies first emerged in 2013 through information leaked by whistle blower Edward Snowden, but a new investigation lays bare the alleged involvement of Danish authorities. A confidential Danish intelligence analysis reviewed the NSA’s relationship with FE, Denmark’s defence intelligence service from 2012 to 2014, according to multiple reports.
Citing numerous sources, Denmark’s public broadcaster as well as other outlets in Germany, Norway, Sweden and France said the so-called Dunhammer report found that NSA was able to use Danish eavesdropping systems on submarine internet cables.
The report, carried out by four specialised FE agents, claimed the Danes knew about and agreed to the Americans’ conduct.
The findings are the result of a 2015 internal investigation in the Danish Defence Intelligence Service into NSA’s role in the partnership, DR said, citing nine unnamed sources with access to the investigation.
German Chancellor Merkel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former German opposition leader Peer Steinbrück were among those listed as having been spied on.
According to the investigation, the NSA also spied on senior officials in Sweden, Norway and France.
Asked for comment on the DR report, a spokesperson for the German chancellery said it only became aware of the allegations when asked about them by journalists.
The spokesperson declined to comment further on the damning report about the involvement of Denmark, Germany’s northern neighbour, in the alleged spying
Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen refused to comment on “speculation” about intelligence matters in the media.
She said: “I can more generally say that this government has the same attitude as the former Prime Minister expressed in 2013 and 2014 – systematic wiretapping of close allies is unacceptable.”
There was a wall of silence in Washington, as the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declined to comment.
A spokesperson for the Danish Defence Intelligence Service also refused to comment.
Denmark is a close ally of the US and plays host to several key landing stations for subsea internet cables to and from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and Britain.
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NSA used Xkeyscore, an analysis software it had itself developed, to intercept calls, texts and chat message to and from the phones of officials in neighbouring countries, sources told DR.
The internal investigation in the Danish Defence Intelligence Service was launched in 2014 following concerns about Mr Snowden’s leaks the previous year.
The whistle blower, a former NSA employee, divulged massive amounts of confidential information, revealing how the NSA works.
He later fled America and was given asylum in Russia.
Following DR’s report, Mr Snowden posted a cryptic Danish-language comment on Twitter.
He said: “If only there had been some reason to investigate many years ago.
“Oh why didn’t anyone warn us?”
German finance minister Peter Steinbruck told German broadcaster ARD he thought it was “grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives” of other countries.
He added: “Politically I consider it a scandal.”
Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish SVT broadcaster that he “demanded full information”.
And Norway’s defence minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told broadcaster NRK that he took the allegations seriously.
In Paris, Clement Beaune, France’s minister for European affairs told France Info radio that the DR report needed to be checked and that, if confirmed, it would be a “serious” matter.
“These potential facts, they are serious, they must be checked,” he said, adding there could be “some diplomatic protests”.
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