On Monday, France, Germany and other European countries asked the United States and Denmark to provide clarification on reports of US spying on some officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a new chapter in the wiretapping file between allies eight years after the earthquake caused by the Snowden case.
In an investigative report Sunday, the Danish Public Broadcasting Corporation, in cooperation with many other European media outlets, revealed that the US National Security Agency had tapped underwater Danish internet cables from 2012 to 2014, to spy on senior politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France.
The report stated that the US National Security Agency took advantage of a partnership with a foreign intelligence unit in Denmark, to spy on senior officials in neighboring countries.
The report said the NSA had access to text messages, phone calls and Internet traffic, including search, chat and messaging services, including those of Merkel, then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and then-opposition leader Per Steinbrueck.
French President Emmanuel Macron said after a French-German ministerial meeting, “If the information is correct (…), this is not acceptable among allies, and is also unacceptable between European allies and partners.”
“I adhere to the bond of trust that unites Europeans and Americans,” he added. “There is no room for doubts. For this reason, what we are waiting for is complete clarity. We have asked our Danish and American partners to provide all the information about these leaks and these past facts, and we are waiting for these answers.”
For her part, the German chancellor said, “I can only support the statements of Emmanuel Macron. I was reassured that the Danish government, and among its members the Minister of Defense, also very clearly stated its position on these matters (…) It is a good basis, not only to clarify the facts but also to establish
lapses or errors
“This is a very serious matter,” French Minister for Europe Clement Bonn told France Info radio. “We need to know whether our Danish partners in the European Union made lapses or mistakes in their cooperation with the American agencies.”
Sweden and Norway, Denmark’s neighbors, also demanded explanations from Copenhagen, although the tone was more cautious. “It is unacceptable that countries feel the need to spy while maintaining close relations between allies,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.
“That is why we hope to learn more from Denmark. They have set up an investigation committee. We have asked for the information they have,” she was quoted by NRK TV.
The report said that the US National Security Agency used cooperation with the Danish military intelligence unit to eavesdrop on the cables, but it was not clear whether Copenhagen knew at the time that the United
An internal secret investigation
US wiretapping of European leaders is nothing new. In 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed thousands of classified documents that exposed extensive US espionage after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The documents showed at the time that the US government was spying on its citizens and wiretapping many on a large scale around the world, including Merkel’s mobile phone.
And if the case of the Danish-American espionage is confirmed, it will mean that the matter continued during and after the Snowden case in 2013.
In 2014, in the wake of the Snowden scandal, a clandestine internal working group in Danish intelligence began looking into whether the NSA had used a Danish-American espionage collaboration called X-KEY SCORE to spy on Denmark’s allies.
The group’s report, codenamed “Operation Donhammer,” was submitted to the Danish Supreme Intelligence
Investigation and dismissals
Danish Defense Minister Trane Bramson was also informed of the spy file last August, according to a report by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. Shortly after that, intelligence director Lars Vindsen and his predecessor, who was in the position until 2015 Thomas Arinkel along with 3 other employees, were dismissed from their posts, without announcing a full explanation for the reason for the dismissal.
At the time, the government said an audit raised suspicions that intelligence conducted illegal surveillance between 2014 and 2020. Last November, it was revealed that the US used Danish cables to spy on Danish and European defense industries from 2012 to 2015.
For its part, the European Union refused to comment on the news related to the US National Security Agency spying on German and European officials in cooperation with Denmark, and the Union said that issues related to national security and the work of national intelligence are a matter of member states.
In Washington, the US National Security Agency did not respond to a request for comment, and the Director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. A Danish Defense Intelligence Service spokesman also declined to comment.