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Danish secret service helped US spy on German chancellor

Danish secret service helped US spy on German chancellor

Posted June. 01, 2021 07:35,   

Updated June. 01, 2021 07:35


According to Danish public service broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR), between 2012 and 2014, the Defense Intelligence Service (FE) collaborated with the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on high-ranking European politicians including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Back then, Joe Biden was serving as vice president of the United States under the Obama administration.

The DR and German media outlets reported that the NSA and the FE kept tabs on the top-level politicians in major European economies including Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden, under a project called “Operation Dunhammer.” Along with Angela Merkel, the NSA eavesdropped on Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the then-German foreign minister, and Peer Steinbrück, the opposition leader at the time, through the local Internet cable network in Denmark and the Danish espionage system called “Crown Jewel.” The NSA collected “everything they could collect through smartphones” such as their call history, texts, and the conversations from messaging apps.

Fuming at the news, the target countries denounced the U.S. and Denmark in unison. Swedish lawmaker Jens Holm said it was “extremely outrageous.” Audun Lysbakken, the leader of the Socialist Left Party of Norway, described the incident as a “serious act of betrayal.” Patrick Sensburg, a German lawmaker, incredulously questioned how such an incident could have happened. While the European news outlets covered the news en masse, it has not been brought up by any of the major American news agencies.

Controversies surrounding the NSA’s spying activities are nothing new. In 2013, Edward Snowden, the former engineer at the NSA and the CIA, debunked the existence of a secret surveillance program called “PRISM.” On Sunday, Snowden accused President Biden of being deeply involved in the scandal through his Twitter posting.

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com