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Wars, Wires & Whistleblowers…

The National Security Agency (NSA) of the US, together with the Danish Intelligence Agency, had been monitoring a number of European Union (EU) leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, from 2012 to 2014. The Danish media outlet, Denmark Radio (DR), recently came up with this revelation, triggering an uproar across Europe. The DR claimed that the two intelligence agencies had monitored the activities of top politicians of countries, like Sweden, Norway, France and Germany. Several EU countries, including France, have strongly criticised Denmark and the US for such an act. According to the 27-member European bloc, if the report is proven true, then what has been done is a serious offence. Hence, the EU has threatened to take strict action against the accused.

It may be noted that Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the CIA and a Whistleblower, had leaked to the media in 2013 details of extensive Internet and phone surveillance by the US intelligence during the regime of then President Barack Obama. However, there was no clear evidence that Denmark was involved in such activities at that time. Meanwhile, the DR report revealed that Denmark’s Defence Intelligence Service (FE) had conducted a secret investigation into the matter.

Chancellor Merkel

The report, prepared by the DR, was based on information obtained from the secret investigation. Without revealing their identities, the report mentioned at least nine sources, which had claimed that the NSA was intercepting messages exchanged between various European leaders with the help of Denmark’s Submarine Internet Cable service. Although the Danish Administration, reportedly, was well aware of the matter, Copenhagen did not raise objection to that in order to maintain cordial diplomatic ties with Washington DC. An Information Centre had reportedly been set up at the Danish Intelligence Service‘s office on an island to keep the vast amount of information obtained through the Cable Service. Apart from the German Chancellor, Denmark and the US had also monitored the activities of some high-ranking officials of France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Britain. However, their names were not mentioned in the report.

After discussing the issue with Chancellor Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “This is not acceptable between allies, and even less between allies and European partners.” Even Defence Minister of Denmark Trine Bramsen admitted that “systemic eavesdropping of close allies is unacceptable“. Interestingly, she did not confirm or deny the report, as she was not in charge of the ministry during the alleged spying. For her part, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg stressed: “It’s unacceptable if countries, which have close allied co-operation, feel the need to spy on one another.

President Macron

Talking to the local media in Paris a couple of days ago, Europe Minister of France Clement Beaune said: “It is extremely serious, we need to see if our partners in the EU, the Danes, have committed errors or faults in their co-operation with American services.” He also said that it would be very serious, if it turned out Washington had been spying on EU leaders. “Between allies, there must be trust, a minimal co-operation, so these potential facts are serious,” stressed the minister, making it clear that the facts must first “be verified“, and then “conclusions drawn in terms of co-operation“.

Edward Snowden

Meanwhile, Snowden has made the situation more critical by accusing US President Joe Biden of being “deeply involved in this scandal the first time around“. According to Snowden, Biden was US Vice President at the time the reported surveillance had taken place! Experts are of the opinion that the alleged incident of spying could have a negative impact on the US’ ties with Europe. Denmark, too, could be cornered by the EU members over this issue.

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