According to news reports published in the European media on Sunday, May 30, Denmark’s secret service helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on leaders of its close allies in Europe including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and president Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The reports confirm the revelations made by whistle blower Edward Snowden in 2013. It also confirms the rising rift among the NATO allies.
Several European media organisations including Danish public service broadcaster DR, France’s Le Monde and Germany’s public broadcasters covered the investigative report submitted to them by secret service sources.
The report confirms that the US spied on its close allies. This has been known at least since the disclosures were made by former NSA employee turned whistle blower Edward Snowden in 2013. However, the details of the extent of Denmark’s support to the US’s spying has become clearer recently as investigators could access more documents and dig out further information.
According to Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), the US also spied on opposition leaders including former Social Democratic Party (SPD) chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück who called the episode a political scandal.
Reports indicate that the Danish secret service also helped the US spy on Denmark’s state officials, including the foreign and finance ministers. The NSA also spied on some Danish weapon manufacturers, the report says.
The European media reports also indicated similar spying of other close allies such as the Netherlands and France. According to the report, the NSA listened to phone conversations of top leaders and read their text messages.
Denmark is a close ally and neighbor of Germany and both Germany and Denmark are members of the US-led NATO and had known about the spying since at least 2013. It did only act against the officials of Danish Intelligence Services (EF) in 2020 and forced its entire leadership to resign. Following the publication of the report, the Danish defense ministry issued a statement saying that “a systemic bugging of close allies is unacceptable,” DW reported.
Several others including the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg and the French secretary of state for European affairs Clement Beaune expressed their displeasure over the revelations calling it unacceptable. However, German chancellor Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron only sought an explanation saying that answers from Copenhagen and Washington are required.
Snowden revelations and Germany’s attempts to belittle it
Following the publication of the report, Edward Snowden tweeted that what is revealed is not enough and there is a need for “full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partners as well.” He also said that president Joe Biden was deeply involved in the spying case when he was the vice president in the Barack Obama administration.
According to Snowden’s revelation of NSA documents, the US agency was closely monitoring several people including top officials like Angela Merkel. Merkel and the ruling coalition in Germany however tried to dismiss the revelations by refusing a thorough investigation into the matter despite saying in 2013 that “spying among friends” is unacceptable.
According to DW, Angela Merkel testified in front of the German Parliament (Bundestag) committee charged with investigating the 2013 NSA scandal in 2017 and denied that the US would have listened to her phone conversations while accepting that she had no idea of German surveillance practices.
Despite objections raised by the left and Green parties who demanded a thorough investigation and testimony of Snowden, Germany closed the investigation into the NSA spying revelation in 2017 citing lack of concrete evidence.
The issue was further diluted due to reports in the German media in 2015 about German Intelligence Agency (BND) spying on its allies in Europe with help from the US. According to the reports NSA provided BND with spying software in exchange for data sharing. German media also reported that BND spied on officials between 1998 and 2006.
The latest revelation is unlikely to prompt any serious investigation given the close links between the US and its allies in Europe. However, it has confirmed that imperialist forces do not even trust their close allies.