How EU leaders including Angela Merkel were spied on by the NSA from Denmark

German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves the Bundestag after being questioned by a Wirecard commission of inquiry on April 23, 2021, in Berlin.

In matters of intelligence, it is customary to say that friendships do not exist. France and some of its closest allies have experienced it: several parliamentarians and senior officials from Germany, France, Norway and Sweden have been spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA), the American intelligence agency responsible for wiretapping. , by hijacking Danish electronic surveillance systems.

This is what advances, Sunday, May 30, an investigation of the Danish public television (DR), to which The world, the S├╝ddeutsche Zeitung, German channels NDR and WDR, as well as Swedish (SVT) and Norwegian (NRK) public television stations had access. DR echoes an internal Danish intelligence report showing that the NSA spied on prominent European politicians in 2012 and 2014, using Danish telecommunications submarine cable eavesdropping systems . Access that the American agency had under agreements with Denmark.

Among the targets are German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as two unsuccessful candidates for chancellery in 2009 and 2013 respectively: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, leader of the social democratic opposition in the Bundestag then foreign minister and current president of the Republic, and Peer Steinbr├╝ck, one of the main figures of the SPD, the Social Democratic Party.

Denmark accomplice

DR spoke to multiple sources who had access to this confidential and highly technical report completed in May 2015 by the Danish military intelligence service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, FE). This work began in 2013: at the time, the FE wanted, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations on the practices of the NSA, to shed light on the use made by the powerful American intelligence agency of its interception facilities in Denmark.

Read the archive (2020): NSA phone surveillance program ruled illegal on appeal

Four specialized agents therefore met in the greatest secrecy to look into the “selectors”, “keywords” (in reality telephone numbers or e-mail addresses, sometimes other more technical elements) chosen. in 2012 and 2014 by the NSA, which the interception system searched for and extracted from the intercepted data stream in Denmark.

The conclusions of this secret report, entitled “Dunhammer” and about fifteen pages long, are unequivocal: the NSA took advantage of its partnership with Denmark to spy on allied countries, making Copenhagen an accomplice, at least out of naivety, of the tendencies of surveillance of his partner.

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