The US intelligence service NSA (National Security Agency), in collaboration with the Danish intelligence service, has spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European dignitaries, among others.
The Danish public broadcaster DR writes this based on an as-yet-unpublished internal investigation by the Danish intelligence service. The NSA used the European network of internet cables, of which important nodes are located in Denmark.
There are several important stations for submarine internet cables in Denmark, which run to and from Germany, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. These cables allowed the intelligence services to view text messages, telephone conversations and, for example, internet use such as search history.
At least from 2012 to 2014, Denmark and the United States are said to have tapped this network. Not only was this information collected about Angela Merkel. Also, dignitaries in France, Norway, and Sweden have been spied on by the NSA. In addition, the former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is also said to have been spied on.
The discovery of espionage by the NSA in collaboration with Denmark was already described last year by the broadcaster DR. The Danish Defense Minister, who took up this position in June 2019, was informed about the espionage practices in August 2020. She found this “unacceptable”. The NSA and Danish intelligence have yet to comment on the allegations. The Norwegian and Swedish defence ministers say in local media that they are taking the revelations seriously and are demanding more information.
The head of the Danish intelligence service was suspended in August 2020, as were three other employees, for serious abuses. An independent investigation concluded these abuses. In response, the Danish government launched an investigation that should be completed by the end of this year.
The German government says it has also seen the message and wants clarification. “We are in contact with all relevant national and international bodies about this,” said a government spokesperson. He emphasizes that, in principle, the German authorities never detail “matters relating to the activities of intelligence services”.