Danish Intelligence reportedly helped NSA to Spy on European Politicians

Danish Intelligence reportedly helped NSA to Spy on European Politicians

According to a report by German media, the Danish foreign and military intelligence service Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE) helped the American National Security Agency (NSA) listen to top European politicians.

The FE is said to have enabled the NSA to use the secret listening station Sandagergårdan near Copenhagen. Here is an important Internet hub for various submarine cables that the NSA tapped.

According to the report, the Danish government had known about the surveillance of neighbouring European countries since 2015 at the latest, when the so-called Dunhammer Report was created. In response to the Snowden revelations, Danish intelligence and IT specialists had compiled the extent to which the Danish intelligence service cooperated with the NSA in the secret paper.

The Danish government apparently also learned that Denmark was helping to wiretap leading politicians from Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France and also Germany – Including German Chancellor Merkel and Germany’s President Steinmeier.

According to a secret service source of the Danish broadcaster DR, the NSA and the FE used the espionage software “XKeyscore” for surveillance. This program was used in the past by the NSA and friendly secret services, including the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), to filter and analyze specific search terms such as e-mail addresses or telephone numbers from large data streams.

According to the Dunhammer Report, which has been kept secret to this day and examined the cooperation between the NSA and FE in 2012 and 2014, the surveillance also targeted Denmark itself. Targets had been spied on in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Finance as well as in a Danish arms company.

The FE, therefore, helped the Americans to monitor their own government. This is prohibited under Danish law and, when it became known in 2020, led to a wave of indignation. In the course of clearing up the scandal, the entire management of the FE had to resign.

The NSA, the FE and the Danish Ministry of Defense have not yet provided any comments regarding the allegations in the report. However, Denmark’s Defense Minister said in general that “systematic wiretapping of close allies is unacceptable”.

Photo by European People’s Party/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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