High level espionage. From 2012 to 2014, with the help of the Danish intelligence services, theThe United States spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as other European leaders and officials, revealed a consortium of major European media, including theDanish public television channel Danmarks Radio and The world, Sunday May 30. American whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former CIA computer scientist now a refugee in Russia, had already let it be known in 2013 that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone was being spied on. Here is what we know about this new case of wiretapping between theoretically allied countries.
The NSA used the Danish telecommunication cables to spy
According to the Danish public television survey (in Danish), the American National Security Agency (NSA) connected, between 2012 and 2014, on Danish telecommunications cables to spy on European leaders and senior officials. Aided by the Danish military intelligence services, the NSA was able to access the spied on text messages, phone calls and internet traffic, including their searches, chats and messaging services.
This NSA espionage is documented in an internal Danish intelligence report codenamed “Operation Dunhammer”. It was also the subject of a presentation to the management of the Danish intelligence services in May 2015, again according to Danish television, which had access to classified information and relies on multiple sources.
Neither the Danish intelligence services nor their then director, Lars Findsen, commented on the revelations. Buthe case sheds new light on the dismissal last August of Lars Findsen, his predecessor, Thomas Ahrenkiel, and three other agents. All were returned by Danish Minister of Defense who, according to Danish TV, had been informed of the spying of Europeans at the same time. The precise reason for their exclusion has never been made public. In a brief press release, the Minister Trine Bramsen ruled “unacceptable (…) the systematic espionage of his close allies “.
The only Nordic country that is a member of NATO and the European Union, Denmark is one of Washington’s closest allies in Europe, to which it notably supplied soldiers during the war in Iraq.
Angela Merkel and other politicians bugged
Also according to Danish television DR, it was about spying senior officials and senior officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France. Among the officials in question is the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then opposition leader Peer Steinbrück.
Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste lod USA spionere mod Angela Merkel, franske, norske og svenske toppolitikere gennem danske internetkabler https://t.co/Y670lj8fPi pic.twitter.com/QJBbfMySrv
– DR Nyheder (@DRNyheder) May 30, 2021
French officials are also among the personalities monitored, but their names have not been disclosed. The Elysée, contacted by our colleagues from World, declined to answer questions.
Practices known since the revelations of Edward Snowden
This spy case confirms the information of Edward Snowden dating from 2013. This former employee of the NSA had then revealed the existence of a global surveillance system of communications and the Internet by “the big American ears”. He had already indicated at the time that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone was being spied on.
In the wake of these revelations, the British daily The Guardian (in English) said in October 2013 that an executive in the US administration had shared the phone numbers of 35 world leaders with the NSA.
Requests for explanations from France
Asked Monday on franceinfo, the Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune condemned these practices. “It is extremely serious, it is necessary to check whether our partners of the EU, Danish, made errors or mistakes in their cooperation with the American services”, he was moved. On the American side, Clément Beaune called for “to see if indeed, there was (…) the listening, the espionage of political leaders”, not ruling out the idea of“draw the consequences in terms of cooperation”.
European personalities spied on by the United States: “It is extremely serious, we must verify these facts and denounce them if it is proven,” reacts Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs.
Follow the live https://t.co/cEwi3c61QM pic.twitter.com/i0nyDJyMRH
– franceinfo (@franceinfo) May 31, 2021
“Between allies, there must be, even if we are not in a world of Care Bears, trust, minimal cooperation, so these potential facts are serious”, he added, specifying that“there are going to be a number of diplomatic protests” if the facts are true. Berlin, Stockholm and Oslo also said they asked for an explanation, although the warning was less strong than that of Paris. Thus, Germany “is in contact with all national and international interlocutors to obtain clarifications”, said the government spokesperson during a press briefing.
In fact, can there really be a risk of sanctions? Antoine Lefébure, author of The Snowden Affair, how the United States spies on the world (ed. The Discovery, 2014) and questioned by franceinfo, is categorical on this point: according to him, France and Europe cannot “Nothing at all” on this file.
“It was seen at the time of the Snowden affair. The maximum that can happen is that the United States ambassador is summoned to Foreign Affairs. Apparently it grumbles and then we continue.”Antoine Lefébure, specialist in the use of new technologies
“What you need to know is that France is very integrated into the American surveillance system, with software that depends on the United States. And in addition, we also need American information, especially in Africa, in the fights in the Sahel. What do you want us to do? “, he analyzes.