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Denmark helped NSA spy on politicians in Europe


The Danish Defense and Intelligence Service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste [FE]) was discovered by providing inside information to the US National Security Agency (NSA) through underwater internet cables, between 2012 and 2014.

The information was discovered in an investigation carried out by Radio Denmark (DR), which collected testimony from nine involved. According to testimony, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then foreign minister, and Peer Steinbrück, the main opposition representative at the time, as well as their cabinets and staff, were affected by the secret agreement between the FE and the NSA.

According to the investigation, the NSA “intercepted everything” from text messages to phone calls. Pretty much any information that passed through Denmark’s underwater internet cables.

Map of underwater internet cables arriving in Denmark. Photo: DR.
Map of underwater internet cables arriving in Denmark. Photo: DR.

In addition to accessing sensitive information for investigative purposes on behalf of the US government, it was also discovered that the NSA installed spy software, XKeyscore, developed by the NSA itself, on servers in the Danish town of Dragør.

As the article explains, the XKeyscore is specific software, used for data recovery for surveillance purposes, allowing the NSA to track any individual’s information. The app is able to access audio from calls, emails and even browser history.

According to the German media group Deutsche Welle (DW), the Danish government concluded that there was a secret agreement between the agencies since 2015, after the disclosures of Edward Snowden (former NSA that went public to disclose the atrocities committed by the agency) and the collection of facts and evidence during 2014. This information, however, only reached the press now, with the investigation of the DR.

This data collection was named Operation Dunhammer and had the direct participation of the Danish government and four other information security professionals.

Based on this research, the Danish government concluded that the FE helped the NSA spy on top politicians in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France and Germany. In addition, Danish intelligence also helped the NSA to spying on the Danish Ministry of Finance, an arms manufacturing company, and the US government itself.

In 2020, the Danish government indirectly resigned, forcing the resignation of the entire FE leadership.

Sources: DR; DW; TheHack.

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