Monday, May 31, 2021
Federal government surprised
NSA is said to have spied on Merkel with Danish help
The accusation has existed since Edward Snowden’s revelations, but now the suspicion is confirmed: According to media reports, the US secret service NSA has overheard top political figures such as Chancellor Merkel in the EU. Apparently Denmark helped a lot.
According to media reports, the Danish secret service helped the US secret service NSA to bug European top politicians. The Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former SPD candidate for Chancellor Peer Steinbrück were specifically eavesdropped, citing intelligence sources. The DR researched the case together with European media, including NDR, WDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ).
According to joint research by the broadcasters and newspapers, the Danish foreign and military intelligence service Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE) enabled the NSA to use the secret listening station Sandagergård near Copenhagen between 2012 and 2014. According to this, the US secret service was able to tap into an important Internet hub for various submarine cables. According to the DR, the NSA had access to text messages, phone calls and internet activities, including research, chats and messenger services. The DR said its information came from nine sources that had access to classified FE information. The research was also confirmed by several independent sources.
The wiretapping was directed against leading politicians from Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and France. According to the research, the cooperation between the NSA and the Danish secret service in monitoring neighboring European countries was documented in an internal FE report in 2015. The Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen, who has been in office since June 2019, was informed of this in August 2020, according to the DR. She told the broadcaster that “systematic wiretapping of close allies” was unacceptable.
Federal government and Steinmeier surprised
According to the report, the federal government had no idea about the spying on leading government members from Denmark. “The subject of your research became known to the Chancellor through your inquiry,” said a government spokesman. Federal President Steinmeier also stated that he had not known anything about the wiretapping operations from Denmark so far.
Ex-Federal Finance Minister Steinbrück also told the research network of NDR, WDR and SZ that he only found out about the wiretapping against him through the reports. “Politically, I think that’s a scandal.” He does believe that western states also need functional and efficient intelligence services. But this type of wiretapping between partners shows “that they lead a life of their own”.
Former US intelligence officer Edward Snowden published thousands of top-secret documents in 2013 about the surveillance practices of US intelligence services. The revelations sparked outrage around the world. Merkel responded with the sentence “wiretapping among friends – that doesn’t work at all” to reports that the NSA is said to have also tapped her cell phone. However, the Federal Prosecutor stopped the investigation in 2015. The NSA and the Danish secret service have not yet commented on the latest report.