The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States used a partnership with Denmark’s foreign intelligence unit to spy on senior officials of many countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish state broadcaster DR said.
The report cited an investigation between 2012 and 2014, and quoted inputs from nine people aware of the development.
After the report surfaced, former NSA employee Edward Snowden posted a cryptic tweet in Danish language. “If only there had been some reason to investigate many years ago. Oh why didn’t anyone warn us?” he said in the tweet.
Snowden also said that US President Joe Biden is well-prepared to answer for this. “Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around. There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partner as well,” the whistleblower said in a subsequent tweet.
The internal investigation in the Danish Defence Intelligence Service was launched in 2014 following concerns about former Snowden’s leaks the previous year revealing how the NSA works, according to DR.
Snowden fled the United States after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 and was given asylum in Russia.
Denmark, a close ally of the United States, hosts several key landing stations for sub-sea internet cables to and from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and Britain.
Through targeted retrievals and the use of NSA-developed analysis software known as Xkeyscore, NSA intercepted both calls, texts and chat messages to and from telephones of officials in the neighbouring countries, according to DR report.
Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen declined to comment on “speculation” about intelligence matters in the media.
“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,” Bramsen told Reuters in a statement.
Denmark said last year it would initiate an investigation into the case based on information from a whistleblower report. That investigation is expected to be concluded later this year.