The United States spied on politicians in Europe, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, from 2012 to 2014 with the help of Danish intelligence services, several Danish and European media reported on Sunday.
Danish public television Danmarks Radio claims that the US National Security Agency (NSA) connected to Danish telecommunications cables to spy on senior officials from Germany, Sweden, Norway and France. To carry this out, the NSA took advantage of the fact that it had a surveillance collaboration with the Danish military intelligence services FE.
Danmarks Radio revealed the information following an investigation carried out jointly with the Swedish network SVT, the Norwegian NRK, the German NDR and WDR and the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, as well as the French daily Le Monde.
Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen, appointed in June 2019, was informed of the case in August 2020, according to Danmarks Radio. Asked about the matter, the Danish Defense Ministry did not react, but Bransen told the station that “systematic spying by allies is unacceptable.” Denmark has not been shown to have known that the United States used its surveillance system to spy on its neighbors.
Angela Merkel, then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then-opposition chief Peer Steinbruck are among those spied on by the NSA, according to Danmarks Radio. The NSA had access to text messages, phone calls and internet use, including searches, chats and messaging services. The NSA spying is listed in an internal FE report under the name “Operation Dunhammer” and was submitted to FE management in May 2015, according to Danish public television.
Danmarks Radio claims to have confirmed the information through nine sources who had access to FE classified information, and claims that its disclosures were independently confirmed by other sources. Neither FE nor its then director Lars Findsen have commented on the information.
This spy case, if confirmed, occurred during and after the Snowden case, in 2013. This NSA employee revealed the existence of a global communications and internet surveillance system against, above all, the Germans and in particular the Chancellor’s mobile phone. In November 2020, Danmarks Radio already reported that the United States used Danish cables to spy on Danish and European defense industries from 2012 to 2015.