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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Question for Denmark: Why could the US allegedly eavesdrop ?

Danish lawmaker Karsten Hoenge of the left-leaning Socialist Peoples Party which is supporting Denmark's Social Democratic government said Monday that he would quiz the Scandinavian country defense and justice ministers in parliament about the case.

By: AP | Denmark |
June 1, 2021 6:47:36 pm
Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist looks on during a meeting of the EU ministers of defence in Tallinn, Estonia. Sweden's defence minister, Hulqvist said Monday May 31, 2021, he wants Denmark to explain why that country's foreign secret service allegedly helped the United States spy on European leaders and officials in Germany, France, Sweden and Norway. (AP Photo)

Several European nations want Denmark to explain why it’s foreign secret service allegedly helped the United States spy on European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel more than seven years ago.

“We want the cards on the table said Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hulqvist adding it was unacceptable to eavesdrop on allies”.

Danish lawmaker Karsten Hoenge of the left-leaning Socialist Peoples Party which is supporting Denmark’s Social Democratic government said Monday that he would quiz the Scandinavian country defense and justice ministers in parliament about the case.

“The government must explain how come Denmark has been acting as a willing tool for a US intelligence service and what it will mean for cooperation with Denmark’s neighboring countries” he said.

The Danish broadcaster DR said Sunday that the Danish Defense Intelligence Service known in Denmark by its acronym FE in 2014 conducted an internal investigation into whether the US National Security Agency had used its cooperation with the Danes to spy against Denmark and neighboring countries.

The probe codenamed “Operation Dunhammer” concluded that NSA had eavesdropped on political leaders and officials in Germany France Sweden and Norway.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said it was unacceptable if countries that have close allied cooperation should feel the need to spy on each other or obtain information about them.

Spying on others creates more mistrust than it creates collaboration So it’s not a smart investment for the United States she told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

According to DR the alleged set up between the United States and Denmark reportedly allowed the NSA to obtain data by using the telephone numbers of politicians as search parameters.

DR said its report was based on interviews with nine unnamed sources all of whom were said to have had access to classified information held by the FE The military agency allegedly helped the NSA from 2012 to 2014.

“If the news is correct this is not acceptable between allies very clearly” said French President Emmanuel Macron whose country was also allegedly targeted by US intelligence.

I’m attached to the relation of trust between Europe and the United States he told reporters There’s no room between us for suspicion.

Macron urged for the US to make “full clarity” on the “past facts” but also on “current practices”.

Speaking at the same virtual news conference after bilateral talks Monday between Paris and Berlin Merkel said the issue of NSA eavesdropping had already been discussed previously with the United States and Germany had made clear at the time its position that “spying among friends” wasn’t acceptable.

“What was true then is true today as well” she said.

“I’m reassured that Denmark the Danish government and the defense minister have said very clearly what they think of these matters,” Merkel added. “As such I see a good basis aside from clearing up this matter to also achieve truly trustful relations”.

Reports in 2013 that the NSA listened in on German government phones including Merkels prompted a diplomatic spat between Berlin and Washington that soured otherwise good relations with President Barack Obamas administration.

Still, there were also reports that Germany’s own BND intelligence agency may have helped the US spy on European companies and officials.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden who revealed details of the secret US eavesdropping programs in 2013 reacted to the DR report with a sarcastic tweet in Danish: “Oh why didn’t anyone warn us?”

In a written comment to DR Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said the government cannot discuss intelligence matters.

She added the present government has “the same point of view” as the former Social Democratic government led by Helle ThorningSchmidt who was in power during that period: “the systematic wiretapping of close allies is unacceptable”.

In August Bramsen relieved the head of the country’s foreign intelligence service among others after an independent watchdog heavily criticized the spy agency for deliberately withholding information and violating Danish laws.

Denmark has two intelligence agencies the Danish Defense Intelligence Service which is also responsible for military intelligence and the domestic Danish Security and Intelligence Service known by its Danish acronym PET.

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