From Iceland — Danish Intelligence Service Involved In NSA Spying Scandal

Danish Intelligence Service Involved In NSA Spying Scandal

Published June 3, 2021

Alina Maurer
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday, the Danish state broadcast DR reported about the Danish military intelligence service helping the NSA to spy on senior politicians and officials in Germany, Sweden, France, and Norway. According to DR, this case could easily become the biggest espionage scandal in Danish history.

NSA used Danish telecommunication cables to spy

Anonymous sources claim that the Danish military and intelligence service FE (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste) helped the US National Security Agency, NSA, at a secret monitoring station close to Copenhagen. According to RÚV, the NSA used Danish telecommunications cables to intercept the calls of politicians and monitor all electronic communications that went through their phones, such as text messages and social media chats.

Among those spied on by the NSA during the years of 2012 to 2014, are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then-Foreign Minister (and current President) Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Peer Steinbruck, the then-leader of the German opposition. In the same way, officials and institutions in France, Norway, Sweden, and other countries were monitored.

Operation “Dunhammer”

This scandal has come to light due to a collaborative project between DR and the media in Sweden, Norway, Germany, and France. The investigative work consisted mainly of a number of conversations with nine unnamed sources, all of whom had access to secret data from the Danish military service FE.

The FE started a top-secret internal investigation, called “Dunhammer”, looking into the agency’s intelligence cooperation with the NSA, with the results received in 2015. The results were unequivocal, as the NSA had used FE’s access to the Danish telecommunications network to conduct targeted intelligence on people and companies in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France and Germany, with full awareness and will of FE employees. The investigation was launched as a result of the US whistleblower Edward Snowden leaking a large amount of information about the NSA’s practices.

Biggest espionage scandal in Danish history

Trine Bramsen, the Danish Minister of Defense, was informed about the spying in August last year and received the “Dunhammer” report on the same occasion. However, she did not inform her European colleagues about the content of the report.
According to Danish law, nothing prohibits Danish intelligence agencies from assisting Allied intelligence agencies, neither prohibits intelligence agencies from spying on Allies, individuals, or institutions within them.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the actions of the FE and stated that he is expecting a “full disclosure of the case between the Danish and American partners.” Merkel sticks to her words, she said back when the scandal originally emerged in 2013, “Spying among friends – that is a no-go.”

So far, Merkel, Steinmeier, and Steinbruck are the only ones named in connection with the case. However, the names could easily increase, and the DR has, according to an unnamed source, the information that this aims to be the biggest espionage scandal in Danish history.

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