Denmark’s intelligence agency helped the American National Security Agency (NSA) spy on European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German news outlets reported on Monday.
The revelations that Washington had been eavesdropping on its European allies first emerged in 2013, but it is only now that German journalists have gained access to inside reports about the role of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE) in providing support to the NSA.
The report indicated that Germany’s northern neighbor and EU partner cooperated actively with the US on spying on German leaders.
According to the report, the then-chancellor candidate for the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), Peer Steinbruck, was also on the American spying list.
Reacting to the spying affair, Steinbruck told the Deutsche Welle broadcasting network: “Politically, I consider this a scandal.”
Steinbruck added while he accepted that western countries require functioning intelligence services, the fact that Danish authorities had been spying on their partners showed “that they are rather doing things on their own.”
A spokesperson for the chancellor said neither Merkel nor Steinmeier had “any knowledge” of the spying operations carried out by leading Danish government officials.
The German official added the chancellor had been informed of the revelations.
The Danish government came to know about the involvement of the country’s secret service in the NSA scandal by 2015 at the latest. The authorities began to collect information on the FE’s cooperation with the NSA between 2012 and 2014 in the secret Dunhammer report following the disclosures by the former NSA employee and whistleblower, Edward Snowden, Germany’s NDR television reported.
The information they collected proved that the FE had helped the NSA spy on leading politicians in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and France, as well as Germany.
Denmark’s secret service also helped the NSA to spy on the Danish foreign and finance ministries as well as a Danish weapons manufacturer.
The FE also cooperated with the NSA on spying operations against the US government itself.
Following the discovery of the extent of the US-Danish secret service cooperation, the Danish government forced the entire leadership of the FE to resign last year.