US spies snooped on Angela Merkel's phone calls and texts through Danish cables, report claimsMay 31, 2021
AMERICAN spies worked with Danish spooks to wiretap Angela Merkel's phone calls and texts, a bombshell report says.
The National Security Agency (NSA) also reportedly used Danish cables to spy on officials in Sweden, Norway and France from 2012 to 2014 when Barack Obama was US President.
Aside from German leader Merkel, the US snooped on former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former German opposition leader Peer Steinbruck.
The findings are the result of a 2015 internal probe in Denmark's intelligence service into its partnership with the NSA, broadcaster DR said, citing nine unnamed sources.
Denmark, a close ally of the United States, hosts several key landing stations for subsea internet cables to and from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and Britain.
Through targeted retrievals and the use of analysis software known as Xkeyscore, NSA spies intercepted both calls, texts and chat messages from officials in the neighbouring countries, sources told DR.
The internal probe in the Danish Defence Intelligence Service was launched in 2014 following concerns about former NSA employee Edward Snowden's leaks the previous year revealing how the agency works, according to DR.
Snowden fled the US after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 and was given asylum in Russia.
Following DR's report, Snowden posted a cryptic Danish-language comment on Twitter saying: "If only there had been some reason to investigate many years ago. Oh why didn't anyone warn us?"
Steinbruck told broadcaster ARD he thought it was "grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives" of other countries.
He said: "Politically I consider it a scandal.”
Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen declined to comment on "speculation" but added: “systematic wiretapping of close allies is unacceptable.”
In Washington, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) also refused to comment on the report.
In Paris, French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune told France Info radio that the DR report needed to be checked and that, if confirmed, it would be a "serious" matter.
"These potential facts, they are serious, they must be checked," he said, adding there could be "some diplomatic protests".
A decision in August last year to suspend the head of the Danish Defence Intelligence Service and three other officials following accusations of serious wrongdoings from an independent board centred on the 2015 probe, reports DR.
Denmark said last year it would initiate an investigation into the case based on information from a whistleblower report. That probe is expected to be concluded later this year.
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